From Senator Jesse Kiehl <[email protected]>
Subject Welcome to the Real Deal With Kiehl!
Date August 21, 2021 3:57 AM
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So it Begins So it Begins August 20, 2021 Dear Friends and Neighbors, Monday we started the third special session. The big update from last week is the hostage got released! With an appropriation bill in the mix, we can fund a PFD and other budget pieces (like WWAMI, scholarships, and domestic violence shelters) that are waiting on the three quarter vote. And the big fiscal pieces? They were in the fiscal policy working group's recommendations. Read on! Gov. Dunleavy signed SB 76, with key bill supporters: Alaska Municipal League's Nils Andreassen, AEL&P's Alec Mesdag, and my staff Cathy Schlinheyde who carried the bill. Signed Into Law First, some good news! The governor signed two of my bills on Monday. SB 76 makes it easier to deal with vehicles abandoned on your property—five months easier. SB 65 protects Alaskans’ health care by making sure our care providers can get the best advice, no matter where they live in the state. Thanks to the many people who worked and testified on these bills. I’m thrilled to see them signed into law! What Do We Do Next? The Fiscal Policy Working Group officially finished our work Monday just before the special session started. The report is out! I talked on the senate floor about how we got to our recommendations, but the short version is: this was a very diverse group of legislators, and getting to some basic agreement was a big deal. Oh, there are parts of the report I don’t like. No one got everything they wanted. But taken as a whole, it's balanced and financially sound. Now it just has to survive our colleagues and the governor. Here are the highlights: Protect the whole Permanent Fund in the constitution. No more principal/earnings distinction. Don’t overdraw the fund. Limit withdrawals to a percent of market value. Base the dividend on a share of the POMV. Constitutional certainty for the PFD. Healthy capital budget. Substantial new revenues. Budget reductions & spending cap reform. Any “transition period” is one time only. We also agreed we need to build a plan that stands up to fiscal stress tests. Alaskans can't just cross our fingers and hope our financial wishes come true. That's the outline. Here are the questions I've gotten the most so far: What’s this “transition period”? No matter what we do—cut the state budget, pass a tax, constitutionalize the PFD, all of the above—nothing happens overnight. So with the savings gone, how do we get through the next two or three years? The governor proposed a $3 billion overdraw from the permanent fund to get us over the hump. I disagree. I think we should step dividends up each year until we reach our target (probably 50/50) so there's a rising, predictable PFD as we implement revenues and other measures to close the deficit. The group didn't agree on the transition, but we were united in saying that whether we buy time with PFDs below the target or an overdraw, Alaskans need to be sure it won't just keep happening. What does “constitutional certainty” for the PFD mean? We agreed there needs to be a PFD. The only way to guarantee that is to put it in the constitution. But how, exactly? We could set a specific formula—something like 50% of each year's POMV draw. Or the constitution could say the state must pay a PFD every year, but leave the calculation in statute. That takes the PFD out of the annual budget fight. If you want to change it, you'll have to pass a bill. Crucially, it also lets future Alaskans do just that. So it will make sense for the state when things change. (If the population shrinks and the fund surges, do Alaskans want a universal basic income? If the population explodes and the fund barely grows, is a miniscule check worth doing?) Why broad based revenues? I've thumped on this one before. Today, Alaska's budget comes from oil and the financial markets. That's it. When the economy is growing and robust, we need the state to provide more services for a growing population—from schools to roads to public safety. So there should be a connection between that growing economy and the resources our government has to support it. And we shouldn't hit struggling Alaskans harder than wealthy ones (or let nonresident workers off the hook.) That’s why I support an income tax. (To be clear: the group didn't agree on a broad-based tax type.) Why spending cuts? We've been cutting Alaska's budget for years. Services to Alaskans have suffered. You won't be surprised to hear I don't think we need more of that, especially since for years we've heard that once the cuts are made, it'll be time to talk about revenues. Still, the compromise we struck was to cut from the base budget projection. That base included a 2% annual growth in state costs. I'll confess I'm a little dubious, but I think we may be able to hold overall spending below that level without decimating the services Alaskans need. Please send me any questions you have left when you've read the report. I've asked my colleagues—especially the Finance Committees—to take up the pieces of the package during this special session. There's still a lot of work ahead of us. All my best, Did someone forward you this newsletter? Did you fall into it through the series of tubes? Want more? SUBSCRIBE Events & Happenings Around District Q Juneau: Egan Highway is Lava! An easygoing half-marathon, open to all ages and motorless forms of transportation! From Devils Club to Forbidden Peak (either direction.) Don’t let the rain bog you down - the event runs until Aug. 22 so aim for one of the prize categories and have some fun! Discover Eaglecrest Day! Juneau’s community-owned ski area is truly one of Alaska’s hidden jewels. Come explore and play: chairlift rides, hiking, biking, disc golf, grilling, and more—check it out Aug. 28! Juneau Whales for Tails Enjoy our backyard full of wildlife Aug. 27 – whether by land or water there’s plenty to 'sea!' Help Juneau Animal Rescue shelter, care for, and adopt out animal companions. Juneau Food Fest & Farmers Market This free community event celebrates Alaska Grown & Alaska Made food, crafts, and more! Downtown at the JACC/Centennial Hall August 28. Capitol Tours Our awesome friends at the City Museum are back giving FREE tours of the Alaska State Capitol! Learn about the building’s proud history and stop by my office (Rm 419) to say hi! Haines Market You know it, you love it, and you need it for all your fresh foods! The farmers market happens every Saturday through mid-September 10 am – 1 pm. Don’t miss out! Skagway High School XC Meet Mark your calendars for a return to school sports. It’ll be the first cross country meet for the region! Come out September 4 and cheer on your favorite runners! Skagway Klondike Road Relay 2021 (kinda) The run must go on! With differences! Sept. 10 - 11 gather your squad for this annual favorite. US & Canadian teams will run different legs. The ones that finish in Skagway (yes, finish) will have an afterparty with live music, food, and brews! Klukwan Books! (And a prize!) Check out books at the Klukwan Community Library and get a chance to win “Traditional Food Guide” from SEARHC Health Promotion! Klukwan Food Sovereignty The Tribal Council approved a new round of food sovereignty funds for Klukwan residents last month—applications will be processed in the order they’re received. Is there an event in our district I should know about? Please call or email! Snail Mail? Alaska State Capitol Room 419 Juneau, AK 99801 Call: 800 550 4947 907 465 4947 Email Me! ‌ ‌ ‌ Contact My Staff, the people who power the work: Edric Carrillo 907 465 6419 [email protected] Cathy Schlingheyde 907 465 6827 [email protected] Senator Jesse Kiehl | Alaska State Capitol, Rm. 419, 4th Avenue & Main Street, Juneau, AK 99801 Unsubscribe [email protected] Update Profile | Constant Contact Data Notice Sent by [email protected]
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