From Sen. Bill Wielechowski <[email protected]>
Subject Capitol Brief: Governor's Vetoes
Date June 24, 2023 12:17 AM
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Latest Updates from the Senate June 23, 2023 Senator Bill Wielechowski State Capitol, Rm 103 Juneau, AK 99801 800-550-2435 907-465-2435 [email protected] 1500 W Benson #315 Anchorage, AK 99503 907-269-0120 Contact My Staff Mercedes Colbert Chief of Staff [email protected] David Dunsmore Legislative Aide [email protected] Nick Moe Legislative Aide [email protected] Hunter Lottsfeldt Legislative Aide [email protected] Contact the Governor Governor Dunleavy's Anchorage office may be reached at 269-7450, or e-mail him at [email protected] Visit the state website Track Legislation Visit the Legislature's website Submit a Letter to the Editor The Daily News welcomes and publishes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email [email protected]. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to [email protected]. ________________ Dear Friends & Neighbors, The Legislature approved a one-time increase of $680 per-student education funding to local schools, known as the Base Student Allocation (BSA), totaling $175 million. The Governor vetoed this increase in half to $87.5 million, or a $340 increase per student. This e-news reviews the vetoes and notable projects that stayed within the budget. $87.5 Million in School Funding Vetoed Governor Dunleavy’s largest veto was for $87.5 million in funding for local schools, leaving only half of the one-time funding increase the Legislature approved. This money was requested by school districts as necessary to prevent cuts to schools. Since the per-student formula used to fund schools, known as the Base Student Allocation, is not automatically adjusted for inflation, it is necessary for the Legislature to regularly adjust the formula. School districts across the state testified that without a significant increase to the BSA, they would have to make significant cuts to education. Here in East Anchorage, the Anchorage School District proposed closing Nunaka Valley and Wonder Park Elementary Schools. The Senate provided adequate and reliable school funding through the Base Student Allocation a top priority, and we passed SB 52 which would increase the BSA by $680 per student and require more transparency and accountability from school districts. Unfortunately, this bill did not pass the House this year, but we did agree to include the equivalent amount of funding for one year in the budget. Dunleavy vetoed half of this funding leaving only the equivalent of $340 dollars per student. School districts will have to decide how to incorporate these cuts into their budgets. The Legislature can override this veto, but it is not easy. Our Constitution has the highest threshold in the country for overriding a budget veto – three-quarters of the full Legislature (45 of 60 votes) are required to override a budget veto. The last time a budget veto was overridden was 14 years ago in 2009. I support calling a special session to attempt to override this veto, I know it will be a challenge but education is too important not to stand up for. Other Education Funding Vetoes Additional education money was vetoed from the University of Alaska budget totaling $35.4 million. This includes a $19 Million cut to maintenance projects at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The issue with cutting maintenance funding is it will often end up costing the State more money in the long run as maintenance needs increase. Additional education funding that is Vetoed: $10 million for School Major Maintenance – but $20 million remains $1.5 million for Head Start Match – but a $3.5 Million increase remains Education funding that remained in the budget: $7.5 Million for Additional Funding to Support Child Care Block Grants for Wage Increases Nearly $3 million increase to Pre-K, for a total of $8,699,000 for Pre-Kindergarten programs Dozens of additional vetoes were announced by the Governor and a full list can be found here. Long Trail Projects Funded One of the bright spots in the budget includes funding for three projects that support the Alaska Long Trail. The Alaska Long Trail will connect 500 miles of hiking, biking, and motorized trails between Seward and Fairbanks. The three projects are: * Eklutna Lakeside Trail Improvements to repair erosion and improve safety. $234,000 * Ram Valley Access Reestablishment to make sure trail access is secured around private land. $100,000 * Indian Valley Trail Reroute to fix erosion and reroute the summer trail. $1,100,000 The Alaska Long Trail enjoys broad support from local communities, economic development groups, and the tourism industry. Alaska will enjoy millions of dollars in additional economic activity when the trails are completed. You can find more information about the Alaska Long Trail here: [link removed] Renewable Energy Funding Another bright spot in the budget is the funding and extension of the Renewable Energy Fund (REF). The REF first passed the legislature in 2008 and has led to dozens of renewable energy projects coming online. The most recent passage of REF through HB 62 makes the program permanent. $30 Million in additional projects were announced across the state as part of round 15 funding. I am glad to be back in the district for the summer. Don't hesitate to reach out if I may be of assistance. Warmly, Senator Bill Wielechowski | Capitol Building, 4th Avenue & Main Street, Juneau, AK 99801 Unsubscribe [email protected] Constant Contact Data Notice Sent by [email protected]
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