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I've enjoyed working for you in the Legislature, and want to thank you for all your support as we've worked together for a better Alaska. The opportunity to thrive and succeed belongs to all Alaskans, not just those born with privilege.
With your help and support, we can work together to expand opportunity for ALL Alaskans.
I'm proud to have received a national award from the nation's largest foster youth advocacy group, Casey Family programs, for work getting needed help to Alaska's 3,000 foster youth, many of whom bounce between foster homes when we should be placing them in permanent, loving homes where they can thrive. Success is less costly, and more humane, than sending youth to prison and onto welfare. I'm glad the Governor signed our legislation into law.
Legislators need to have the guts to address the elephant in the room – a $2.5+ billion budget deficit, and depleted savings because too many legislators have ducked their heads in the sand, and played election politics, instead of doing their jobs. I'm proud that I and my Bipartsian House Majority Coalition voted to close the gap, and fairly raise needed revenue, including from those with great power and wealth.
But the response from those who have blocked the plan is that corporations can't chip in, large oil companies can't chip in, and the wealthiest among us can't chip in. Opponents call 6,000 corporations that pay no taxes, and oil companies that get a sweet deal with 0% production tax rates, and the wealthiest among us, "job creators" who cannot chip in fairly to solve our deficit. Saying the most privileged can't chip in is code for cutting school funding and opportunity for all, to benefit the most powerful.
I think we all need to chip in, that a plan needs to be balanced, and that the most privileged should not get a free pass. Many wealthy people do want to chip in. The most selfish, who often spend huge amounts on elections to get their way, don't want to chip in fairly. They'd rather burden everyone else, and sink the economy, to protect themselves.
That attitude will get Alaska a longer recession, more lost jobs, and an economy that shrinks when we want it to grow. Every $100 million more in budget cuts at this point costs Alaska 1,000 – 1,500 lost private and public sector jobs.
Election sound bites are killing our economy, and our schools.
The truth is the budget has been cut significantly, and you can't balance the budget by finding $2.5 billion more in cuts. We've cut the budget by 40%, or by over $3.4 billion since 2013. Schools are struggling, I've successfully worked to stop damaging Senate GOP cuts to our schools, disability services, child abuse prevention, and to reverse them. The biggest cuts left are not to waste, but, as the Senate Republican majority proposed – to schools, the university, children, seniors, and those battling disabilities. Basic funding for schools, children, seniors and those with disabilities is not waste.
With your support I will keep working for quality voluntary pre-k, which studies show improve opportunity and performance, especially for children from low income families with parents who both work.
We have to budget smartly, and get our priorities straight. I've voted against a Knik Arm Bridge that, with connecting roads, will cost Alaska roughly $2 billion or more; voted against an unaffordable $6 billion Susitna Dam; and don't support a $600 million Juneau road extension that still requires people to take a ferry, and that will cost millions in road maintenance as it will traverse through 30+ high risk avalanche areas.
I've co-written bi-partisan legislation to make more vibrant communities, allowing Alaska's housing authority to build and finance housing that also includes businesses and non-profits like grocery stores, restaurants and doctors offices. Until that bill passed the state's housing authority was barred from doing that.
I wrote legislation that was added, as an amendment, to protect veterans with combat-related PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries.
We can protect Alaska's fishing streams (I passed legislation pushing to protect Alaska's public fishing access in 2012), our outdoors, and promote economic development as we have on the past. But there's a new move in recent years to trade wild fishing streams for irresponsible development. That's poor policy, and endangering our fisheries with the Pebble Mine is shortsighted.
We have added needs-based aid for those who can't afford college and job training – something I've fought for since I've been in the Legislature.
With your help, I'll keep working for fairness and opportunity for all, and for a vibrant future for this and the next generation.
I'd be honored with your support, so we can get the job done and reverse Alaska's recession instead of playing politics and letting it grow.
PS - As always, just call or write (250-0106; firstname.lastname@example.org) if you'd like to share questions, thoughts or concerns.