From Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson <[email protected]>
Subject Elvi's Updates- May Newsletter
Date May 2, 2023 1:11 AM
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From Juneau to You! Dear Friends, We are quickly approaching the end of the session. With only 16 days left, much has been accomplished thus far (see more below). As we begin to finish the session and transition from being in Juneau to Anchorage, remember that my office is here for you. Please don't hesitate to reach out with inquiries or concerns. May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The effort to officially recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander contributions to the United States began in the late 1970s. It took over 10 years to make it a permanent month-long celebration. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI Heritage Month) is an annual celebration recognizing the historical and cultural contributions of individuals and groups of Asian and Pacific Islander descent to the United States. The AAPI umbrella term includes cultures from the entire Asian continent—including East, Southeast, and South Asia—and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. As of the 2020 U.S. Census, there were about 20.6 million people of Asian or Pacific Islander descent in the United States. Within Alaska, this group of Alaskans represents 5% of the State's population. The Budget The Capital budget, SB 41, prioritizes $30 million for major projects across the state such as major school maintenance, and $32 million for the University of Alaska's capital needs. In formulating the capital budget, the Senate Finance Committee prioritized capturing federal funds and providing grant writers for communities to have the ability to secure federal grants, establish food security and resource preservation, strengthen state-wide energy programs, and address deferred maintenance needs. The capital budget represents $50 million more than the Governor's budget. Some of the Senate-sponsored projects include: Over $900,000 for the Anchorage Flashing Yellow Arrow and Signal Head Display improvements which seeks to improve pedestrian safety $2 million for the UAA Health Workforce Diversity Expansion Project Over $650,000 to the Department of Public Safety for investigative and forensic electronic equipment upgrades Currently, district-specific projects are not included in the Capital Budget, but I intend to bring forward several floor amendments to address a few projects within my district. The budget must pass out of Senate Finance and then it will head to the Senate floor for a vote. The operating budget (HB41) was finalized by the Senate Finance Committee last week and will be on the Senate floor for a vote in the near future. CSSB107 passed the Senate which provides for a 75/25 POMV split- this means 75% for services and 25% for a dividend. It also provides for a $648 BSA increase and a sustainable dividend - of $1,300. However, there is a provision in the bill to change the split to 50/50 if $1.3 billion in new revenue is confirmed by Legislative Finance in FY27. This bill results in a balanced budget with a surplus of approximately $90 million. My top priority has always been establishing a comprehensive and sustainable fiscal plan. This includes revenue which is why I am a co-sponsor of SB114. Under SB 114, non C-Corp entities making significant profits from Alaska’s oil and gas resources will pay the same tax rate as C-Corps. The new 9.4% tax would apply only to entities making over $4 million in profits from oil and gas production or pipeline transportation, and only to their profits above $4 million. In addition, it also changes oil company tax credits from $8 to $5. After serving four years in the Senate, this is a step in the right direction to finally work toward having a fiscal plan in place. The Education Committee, which Senator Löki Tobin chairs and I serve on, heard repeated testimony about the fiscal challenges that face our schools, as well as potential solutions. I have been impressed by the experts who shared their knowledge and insight with our committee and the supporters who offered powerful public testimony to support education. While increased funding is not the silver bullet that will solve all our problems, I am convinced that a meaningful increase in the base student allocation (BSA) is desperately needed to help our students maximize their potential. As you may know, the BSA has been mostly stagnant since 2017; meanwhile, costs for goods and services have risen sharply, which has resulted in staff shortages, school closures, and program eliminations. Although I have consistently supported a $1,000 increase in the BSA, the anticipated $648 presents a reasonable compromise. Between the capital and operating budgets, there is approximately $90 million surplus. There are additional concerns with the budget which will probably require a special session - possibly in October. Bill Updates My bills are continuing to move! Senate Bill 22 which makes Juneteenth a paid state holiday was heard on Senate Floor for its second reading this morning and move into third reading and a vote on Wednesday. Once it passes the Senate, it will go to the House and meet its companion bill, HB 157, in the House State Affairs Committee. HB 157 is sponsored by Representative Stanley Wright. Most recently, I introduced a bill that would implement education on Asian American and Pacific Islanders' history, cultures, contributions, and accomplishments. The decision to introduce this bill comes after a conversation I had with the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Seattle. During our conversation, she stressed the importance of teaching students across America a complete and robust history of this nation and its diverse people. Senate Bill 131 is waiting for its first hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee. Senate Bill 23 establishes a use-of-force database that will be overseen by the Department of Public Safety. The Department will collect reports of use of force by a municipal police officer, municipal correctional facility employee, probation officer, parole officer, correctional officer, state trooper, village public safety officer, or regional officer. Additionally, the Alaska Police Standards Council shall maintain a central registry with information that the Council obtains from the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Corrections, or a municipality. The bill will get a second hearing tomorrow in the Senate State Affairs Committee. Opportunities in the Community If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to my office at: Besse Odom Chief of Staff 907 465-4930 Harlyn Andrew Legislative Staff 907 465-4930 Jeff Stepp Legislative Council Aide 907-465-4930 Send us an Email Follow Me on Facebook Follow Me on Twitter I’m Senator Elvi, always..... "Listening and Representing Your Interests!” Alaska Senate Democrats | Capitol Building, 4th Avenue & Main Street, Juneau, AK 99801 Unsubscribe [email protected] Constant Contact Data Notice Sent by [email protected]
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