Session Highlights – From Rep. Cathy Tilton
Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
To my friends and neighbors in House District 12:
Today marks the first week of the first session of the 30th Alaska State Legislature. We’ve wasted little time beginning the significant work ahead of us.
Without question, the most important issue facing Alaska is adopting a long-range fiscal plan in order to balance our budget in light of declining oil revenues.
Before we adopt or increase broad-based taxes or cap dividends, there are several things we must do first. We must continue to pursue responsible spending reductions and we must adopt a meaningful spending limit.
Over the last 3 years, the Legislature has reduced the operating budget by well over $1 billion ($5.4 billion in FY15 compared to $4.2 billion in FY17). While that is significant progress, further reductions are still warranted. As a member of the House Finance Committee, I have the privilege and responsibility of focusing my time and efforts solely on budget matters.
My staff and I are literally going page by page, line by line, through departmental budgets identifying new reductions. In addition, I am meeting with legislative budget analysts and departmental representative asking detailed questions about various government programs. Last year, I said “instead of asking how can state government provide this service more efficiently, we must ask the tougher question of ‘should state government be providing this service at all?’”
Now that we’ve substantially reduced discretionary spending, we have to do the harder work of reducing formula spending.
Constitutional Spending Limit
In 1982, shortly after the creation of the Permanent Fund Dividend program, Alaska’s voters overwhelmingly adopted a constitutional amendment to limit spending (Article IX, Sec. 16). While this amendment was well intentioned, it has proven completely ineffectual. Since 2000, we’ve only come close to meeting that threshold twice (FY09 and FY13). Given our current fiscal climate and several periods of exploding budgets over the last decade, it is essential we revise the work started 35 years ago and adopt new amendment language that creates a meaningful spending limit.
To that end, I will be introducing, tomorrow, a joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment to do just that. Later next week, I will be introducing a bill to change statute conforming to that new language. If this constitutional amendment is passed by 2/3 of both houses of the legislature, it will go to the voters for their approval in the 2018 election cycle.
BASIS (Bill Action Status Inquiry System) – BASIS is the web based system used to track legislation and check committee schedules. Almost anything you’d like to know about what’s happening in the Capitol can be found here.
Gavel to Gavel (360 North) – Gavel to Gavel provides the most comprehensive coverage of the Legislature’s proceedings—from floor sessions to committee meetings. If you’d like to see us do our work, visit Gavel to Gavel. It is available through most cable providers throughout the state and you can also watch live streaming on the web.
Akleg.gov – This is the Legislature’s primary website. It aggregates much of the content included in the two sources above. Want to know all the members of the 30th Legislature? Interested in knowing more about our state constitution? This is your resource.
Rep. Cathy Tilton, House District 12
Representing: Butte, Chugiak, Eklutna, Fairview Loop and Peters Creek
Municipalities: Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Municipality of Anchorage
Community Councils: Butte, Chugiak, Eklutna, Gateway, Knik-Fairview, South Knik River
Committee Assignment(s): Finance
Subcommittee Assignments: Administration, Health and Social Services
Staff: Heath Hilyard – Finance and personal legislation, Dan Bellerive – Scheduling, constituent services and social media