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The Capitol Report
April 18, 2013
End of Session Status
Ninety days after it began, the First Session of the 28th Alaska State Legislature adjourned on April 14. In a very difficult budget year, UA fared well under the spending plans adopted by the legislature.
Each year for the last seven years, the State of Alaska has received more revenues than it spent. This allowed the legislature to fund generous operating and capital budgets, while having money left over to put into the state’s savings accounts. This string of budget surpluses ended during the current fiscal year (FY13), and this session the legislature enacted budgets for the upcoming fiscal year (FY14) knowing that revenues would again not be enough to cover expenses. In fact, revenues in FY14 are expected to be at least $1 billion less than the revenues received in FY13. Accordingly, the legislature made substantial reductions to the state operating budget that was submitted by Governor Parnell, and it enacted a capital budget that is much smaller than the capital budgets in recent years.
We now await the governor’s action on legislation and on the FY14 operating and capital budgets. Once a bill has passed the legislature and is sent to the governor, he must sign it or veto it within 15 days if the legislature is in session (not counting Sundays) or within 20 days if the legislature is not in session (not counting Sundays). In the case of a budget bill, the governor may veto any individual appropriation contained in the bill; he is not limited to vetoing the bill in its entirety.
Typically, the legislature does not send the budget bills to the governor for signature or veto immediately after passage. Instead, the bills are held for a period of time, sometimes for more than a month. This delay allows the Office of Management and Budget and other agencies time to review and recommend items for signature or veto.
UA was successful this year, thanks in large part to the advocacy efforts of UA supporters throughout the state. UA advocates came out in large numbers at all public hearings on the operating and capital budgets. If you testified or sent messages in favor of the university, thank you!
The following is a summary of legislative actions this year. Details of the FY14 Operating Budget and the FY14 Capital Budget can be found by clicking on the links.
FY 14 Operating Budget
In light of the budget shortfall, Governor Parnell submitted an FY14 state operating budget that held the rate of growth to only 1%. Concerned that even this rate of growth was too much, the House proposed cutting the governor’s all-agency budget by approximately $70 million in unrestricted general funds, and the Senate proposed cutting it by approximately $25 million.
After the House and the Senate passed their respective versions of the operating budget, a conference committee made up of three member of each body met to reach a compromise on the differences between the two versions. Conference Committee members this session included:
Senator Pete Kelly (Senate Finance Committee Co-Chair)
Senator Kevin Meyer (Senate Finance Committee Co-Chair)
Senator Lyman Hoffman (Senate Finance Committee Member/Minority Caucus)
Representative Alan Austerman (House Finance Committee Co-Chair)
Representative Bill Stoltze (House Finance Committee Co-Chair)
Representative Les Gara (House Finance Committee Member/Minority Caucus)
Once a compromise was reached by the conference committee, the House and the Senate voted to adopt the compromise budget on the final day of the session. This compromise (contained in two bills, CCS HB 65 and CCS HB 66, found here: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/PDF/28/Bills/HB0065D.PDF , http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?bill=HB%20%2066&session=28) is the version of the operating budget that will be sent to the governor. The FY14 state operating budget that was approved by the House and Senate was .9% less in unrestricted general funds than the governor’s proposal.
Fortunately, UA’s operating budget was increased from the governor’s proposal, not decreased. The legislature approved a UA operating budget for FY14 that is 3.6% more in unrestricted general funds than the budget for FY13, and about .7% more than the UA budget submitted by the governor.
The final operating budget included full funding for the salary and benefit increases that are scheduled in FY14. In addition, the budget includes funding for the following fixed cost increases and high demand program initiatives:
Fixed Cost Increases:
$1,000,000 UGF Systemwide Facilities Maintenance & Repair
$296,800 UGF UAA KPC Career Tech Operating Costs
$346,200 Receipts UAA KPC Student Housing Operating Costs
$86,400 UGF UAA MSC Paramedic & Nursing Addition Operating Costs
$2,303,000 UGF UAF Life Sciences Operating Costs
$1,500,000 Receipts UAF P3 Dining Project Lease Payments
$1,520,000 Receipts UAF Life Sciences Debt Service
$330,000 UGF UAA Campus Safety and Security Systems (Anchorage, Kenai, and Mat-Su)
High Demand Program Initiatives:
Student Achievement and Attainment
$ 400,000 UGF Mandatory Comprehensive Student Advising systemwide
$ 250,000 UGF Enhanced eLearning Program at UAF
Productive Partnerships with Alaska's Public and Private Industries
$200,000 UGF Statewide Mining Regulatory Training and Certification Program
$ 356,100 UGF UAA Alaska Small Business Development Center
$200,000 UGF UAF University of Alaska Press Office
$55,000 UGF Bristol Bay Nursing Program
$90,000 UGF UAS Director Position for the Center for Mine Training
Unfortunately, many worthy initiatives that were requested by the Board of Regents were not funded this year. Because the state is in a deficit situation, the legislature was not receptive to the idea of adding substantial new program funding. Instead, the focus was on funding existing functions and preparing for a future with less revenue. It is anticipated that expenses will exceed available revenues for some time to come, and we have been warned that we can expect much tighter operating budgets from this point forward.
FY14 Capital Budget
As noted above, this year’s capital budget (CS FOR CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 18 FIN, found here: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/PDF/28/Bills/SB0018E.PDF ) is noticeably smaller than recent capital budgets. It is almost $1 billion less in unrestricted general funds than last year’s capital budget, and it will probably get smaller after the governor has reviewed it and exercised his veto authority.
The UA projects that are in the FY 14 capital budget that passed the legislature and will be sent to the governor include the following:
$30,000,000 UGF UA Deferred Maintenance
$15,000,000 UGF UAA Engineering Building
$15,000,000 UGF UAF Engineering Building
$2,500,000 UGF Alaska Center for Energy and Power
$ 88,700 UGF Juneau Campus Mining Workforce Development
$1,300,000 Receipts UAF Cold Climate Housing Research Center Sustainable Village
Last year, the legislature appropriated $104,900,000 for the UAA and UAF engineering facilities project, which was almost half of the amount needed to fully fund the new buildings. This year, the $108,900,000 needed to complete the project was deemed too much to appropriate in one year by many legislators, considering the budget constraints under which they were operating. It should also be noted that UA didn’t need to receive all $108,900,000 in the upcoming fiscal year in order to keep the projects on schedule. Ultimately, $30,000,000 in continuation funding was placed in the capital budget. This is enough to keep the contractors on site and building until the FY 15 budget year, when the legislature has the opportunity to appropriate additional funds.
What Needs to Happen Now
The budget work is not yet over, we have two tasks left:
First, we need to thank UA’s legislative friends who are responsible for the good news in our operating and capital budgets. A letter, an email, or even a phone call is a good way to let legislators know that their support is noted and appreciated. You can find contact information for legislators here: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/commbr_info.asp?session=28. Representative Cathy Munoz was the chair of UA’s operating budget subcommittee in the House, and she fought hard to limit the reductions to UA’s budget that were part of the House’s overall budget reduction strategy. Senator Anna Fairclough was the chair of UA’s operating budget subcommittee in the Senate, and with the support of Senate Finance Committee Co-Chair Pete Kelly, she was able to add back many of the fixed costs and program initiatives that were not funded by the House. The conference committee members, listed above, decided to compromise the House and Senate budgets at a level much closer to the higher Senate number than the lower House number, and for that they all deserve our thanks.
Representative Bill Stoltze, the Co-Chair of the House Finance Committee responsible for the capital budget, made the decision to add $30 million in funding for the engineering buildings, and that was a very tough choice in this budget environment. He was supported in this decision by his counterpart in the Senate, Finance Co-Chair Kevin Meyer. Senator Meyer and Senator Kelly actively worked during the final days of session to convince the House to add this funding to the capital budget. Support from a number of legislators in Anchorage and Fairbanks was also received on this issue.
Second, none of the legislature’s hard work and support will matter if Governor Parnell vetoes individual operating items or capital projects. You can email Governor Parnell using this form: http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell/contact/email-the-governor.html . You can find his mailing address and office phone numbers here: http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell/contact/office-locations.html .
Many pieces of legislation that affect the University of Alaska were introduced during the session. You can see a list of those bills and resolutions here: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_multibill.asp?session=28&subject=UNIVERSITIES
Any bill or resolution that did not pass prior to adjournment will be available for consideration by the legislature next session. Bills that passed the legislature will now be sent to the governor to be signed into law or vetoed. Resolutions are not subject to veto.
These are the other noteworthy bills and resolutions that were considered during the 2013 session:
HB 30 - STATE AGENCY PERFORMANCE AUDITS by Representative Mike Chenault
Status: passed the legislature
This bill requires all state agencies to submit to a performance audit over the next decade. The information collected will include authority, accountability, effectiveness, efficiency, and necessity of agencies and their programs. UA is scheduled for its performance audit in 2018.
HB 75 - CONTRIBUTIONS FROM PFD: UNIVERSITY/AUDITS by Representative Paul Seaton
Status: currently in the House Finance Committee
This bill requires each campus of the university to pay a yearly administrative fee of $250 to the Department of Revenue in order to be included in the PFD’s Pick-Click-Give program.
HB 84 - MILITARY TRAINING CREDIT by Representative Dan Saddler
Status : passed the legislature
This bill requires the University of Alaska, the Division of Professional Licensing, and vocational educational facilities to provide credit for relevant military education, training and experience. Committee hearings established that UA already grants credit for military education, training and experience in accordance with written agreements with the Department of Defense.
HB 154 - MUSEUM OF THE NORTH by Representative Steve Thompson
Status: passed the House, currently in the Senate Education Committee
This bill gives the University of Alaska the power to designate the University of Alaska Museum of the North at UAF as a repository of state natural and cultural history collections, and gives UA the power to designate other repositories as needed.
HCR 6 – ESTABLISHING A LEGISLATIVE TASK FORCE ON UNMANNED AIRCRAFT by Representative Shelley Hughes
Status: passed the legislature
HCR 6 recognizes the accomplishments of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration and the research conducted to advance this technology in a safe manner. The research team at the Center has proven that unmanned aircraft can complete tasks more efficiently than traditional means, provide better information, and reduce life safety risks to animals and humans.
HCR 6 also recognizes that with new technology comes the need to revisit certain laws to ensure the safety of our citizens and protect their privacy. This resolution forms a task force made up of legislators, government officials, and industry members. The task force will consider recommendations for privacy, appropriate use, and possible remedies for misuse. A preliminary report to the legislature is due in January 2014 and a final report of recommendations due January 2015.
SB 22 – CRIMES; VICTIMS; CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT by Governor Sean Parnell
Status: passed the legislature
This omnibus crime bill includes language that makes athletic coaches of public and private schools mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse or neglect. “Athletic coach” is defined as the paid leader or assistant of a sports team.
SB 74 – UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA BUILDING FUND by Senator Pete Kelly
Status: passed the Senate, currently in the House Finance Committee
This bill was introduced by Senator Kelly at the request of UA. It proposes the creation of a University Building Fund (UBF), modeled after the Alaska Public Building Fund (APBF), which has been operated successfully by the Department of Administration since 2000. The APBF has accomplished its objective of making agencies cost-conscious about the space they occupy, and has functioned as a mechanism to preserve facility assets and extend their useful life.
A Final Note
Many thanks to all who actively participated in advocating for the University of Alaska. Whether you provided public testimony on budget initiatives, wrote letters, sent emails, or met with legislators and
staff, the collective actions of all encouraged legislators to include many operating budget increments and capital budget projects for the coming fiscal year.
For more information, contact Associate Vice President Chris Christensen at
The Capitol Report
April 3, 2013
This morning, the Senate Finance Committee released a draft FY14 capital budget without any funding for the new UAA and UAF Engineering Facilities.
This means that construction on both buildings will shut down when the current funding run out, probably by the end of the year, and construction won’t resume unless more money is made available at a future legislative session. This decision will increase the cost of the project and delay the opening of the buildings, currently scheduled for Fall, 2015.
The Senate Finance Committee will consider amendments to the capital budget tomorrow morning at 9:00, before sending the bill to the Senate floor.
Supporters of this project have today to send any final messages to the Senate Finance Committee, requesting that the capital budget be amended to include some bridge funding to keep these projects on track. Thanks for your help!
The Capitol Report
March 29, 2013
The Capitol Report
March 29, 2013
Today is the 74th day of the legislative session, and we have only 16 days to go until adjournment on Sunday, April 14. The Senate Finance Committee completed its work on the operating budget on Tuesday, and the full Senate will finalize passage of that budget today. Once the budget has passed the Senate, that body will begin working with the House to reconcile the differences between their respective versions. Before that process starts, the Senate Finance Committee will take up the capital budget, beginning with public testimony on Monday.
Senate Operating Budget
The budget that was sent to the Senate floor by the Senate Finance Committee is substantially different than the budget that was adopted by the House on March 14. The Senate’s version would provide the university with an additional $6.2 million of unrestricted general funds, compared to the House budget. Thanks are owed to Senator Anna Fairclough, the chair of the university’s Senate Budget Subcommittee, and to Senator Pete Kelly, the co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Those two members made the preliminary decisions to add the funds, and then convinced their colleagues to support the additions. The Capitol Report will provide more information next week on the differences between the two budgets, and what is at stake for the university in the negotiations between the House and the Senate.
Senate Capital Budget
The capital budget for the university that Governor Parnell sent to the legislature included $37.5 million for deferred maintenance, and for that we are grateful. Unfortunately, the governor’s bill did not include state funds for any of the other projects that were requested by the Board of Regents. No money to complete the UAA and UAF engineering buildings, no money to begin work on a replacement for the UAF power plant, no money for research. You can find a side-by-side comparison of the Board of Regents’ capital budget and the governor’s capital budget here on page 24. Descriptions of projects begin on page 26.
The Senate Finance Committee will take public testimony on the governor’s capital budget on Monday, April 1. This may be the only opportunity for public advocacy on the capital budget, and it is critical that senators hear about the university’s projects. Note that testimony will be taken only from local Legislative Information Offices (see list here) at designated times; the ‘Offnet’ option is available only to participants without a Legislative Information Office in their communities. Testimony is limited to two minutes per person.
1:30 PM Bethel, Nome, Kotzebue, Unalaska
2:00 PM Barrow, Tok, Delta Junction
2:30 PM Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg
3:00 PM Sitka, Cordova, Valdez
3:30 PM Juneau
4:00 PM Kenai, Kodiak, Dillingham
4:30 - 5:00 PM Statewide Teleconference Offnet Sites
6:00PM Fairbanks, Mat-Su
7:00PM Glenallen, Seward, Homer
7:30 – 8:00 PM Statewide Teleconference Offnet Sites
This year, for the first time in about eight years, the state will not run a budget surplus. The budgets that are currently being put together for FY14 will require the state to dip into savings, because expenses will be greater than revenues. Because of this, the governor submitted a relatively small capital budget, and he left very little room for the legislature to add more projects. The capital budget that finally passes could be one-third the size of last year’s capital budget. The university’s share of that budget is currently very small, and we are in competition with many other worthy projects for whatever funds are added. This is your chance to convince the committee that additional initiatives from the Board of Regents’ budget deserve to be added to the final budget document.
What should you say? You will have two minutes to make your case.
- Identify yourself by giving your name and affiliation and your Senate District, if you know it.
- State why you are testifying.
- Pick two or three bullet points about the importance of the project.
- Then tell your own story!
If you can’t testify, please send an email to the members of the Senate Finance Committee, letting them know what you would have said if you had been there. Be sure to thank them. The members are:
Senator Pete Kelly, Co-Chair (R-Fairbanks)
Senator Kevin Meyer, Co-Chair (R-Anchorage)
Senator Anna Fairclough, Vice-Chair (R-Eagle River)
Senator Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla)
Senator Click Bishop (R-Fairbanks)
Senator Donny Olson (D-Golovin)
Senator Lyman Hoffman (D-Bethel)
Later in the week, the Senate Finance Committee will release an amended capital budget bill. With your help, there may be some additions for the university.
Thanks for your advocacy!
The Capitol Report
March 18, 2013
The Capitol Report
March 18, 2013
Operating Budget Updates
Since the last Capitol Report was posted, a great deal has happened in Juneau. On March 14, the House passed an operating budget and sent it to the Senate for consideration by that body. And on March 15, the Senate’s University Budget Subcommittee sent its recommendations on UA’s operating budget to the full Senate Finance Committee.
As previously reported, the House Finance Committee decided to substantially reduce the FY14 operating budget for all agencies that had been proposed by the governor. The final reductions are substantial: the budget passed by the House last Thursday proposes $71 million less for agency operations than does the budget submitted by the governor. In fact, it is actually about $4 million less than the all-agency operating budget for the current year.
The university’s share of this $71 million reduction is $2.65 million. The governor had proposed a 2.9% increase for the university from the current year’s budget, and the House budget only makes a 2.2% increase. The increase includes full funding for the scheduled salary and benefit increases for university employees, funding for two of the Board of Regents’ high demand programs (Bristol Bay nursing program for $55,000, and the UAS Center for Mine Training director for $90,000), and $407,800 to be spent at the university’s discretion. However, it fails to fund millions of dollars in fixed cost increases, such as new building operating costs; it takes $250,000 from the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) that was being used to fund education policy research; and it does not fund any of the other increments for high demand programs that were requested by the Board of Regents.
The Senate’s University Budget Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Anna Fairclough, met several times last week to take testimony on the university’s operating budget. On Friday, the members sent a recommended budget to the Senate Finance Committee.
The subcommittee recommended full funding of the governor’s budget proposal; it did not reduce that budget the way the House did. In addition, the subcommittee recommended funding an extra $600,000 for fixed cost increases, and an extra $1.5 million for high demand programs that were requested by the Board of Regents. This means that the Senate subcommittee’s proposed budget is approximately $4.7 million more than the budget passed by the House. The items added to the governor’s budget are:
Fixed Cost Increases:
Aviation facility lease costs at UAA Chugiak Eagle River Campus: $32,900
Improved campus safety and security systems at UAA (Anchorage, Kenai, and Mat-Su): $330,000
Lease and operating costs of the UAF Process Technology Program: $275,000
High Demand Programs:
Mandatory Comprehensive Student Advising efforts Systemwide: $400,000
Mining Regulatory Training and Certification Program: $200,000
Alaska Small Business Development Center at UAA: $356,100
Nursing Program at the Bristol Bay Campus: $55,000
University of Alaska Press Office at UAF: $200,000
Enhanced eLearning Program at UAF: $250,000
Director Position for the Center for Mine Training at UAS: $90,000
The subcommittee’s funding recommendation will now go to the full Senate Finance Committee. That committee will take up agency budgets during the week of March 25.
On Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23, the Senate Finance Committee will be taking public testimony from around the state on the FY 14 operating budget. This is the last opportunity to participate in public testimony on the operating budget. Funding in the Board of Regents’ operating budget request includes salaries, fixed costs, and priority program investments such as “Student Achievement and Attainment,” “Productive Partnerships with Alaska’s Public and Private Industries” in health, workforce development, mining, and fisheries, and “R&D to Sustain Alaska’s Communities and Economic Growth.” You can find a copy of UA’s FY14 budget request here. The list of new programs requested by the Regents can be found on page 10. Descriptions of those programs start on page 11.
Note that testimony will be taken only from local Legislative Information Offices (see list here) at designated times; the ‘Offnet’ option is available only to participants without a Legislative Information Office in their communities. Testimony is limited to three minutes per person.
Friday, March 22:
9:00 am Bethel, Nome, Kotzebue, Unalaska
9:30 am Barrow, Tok, Delta Junction
10:00 am Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg
10:30 am - 11:00 am Sitka, Cordova, Valdez
1:30 pm Fairbanks, Mat-Su
2:00 pm Anchorage
2:30 pm - 3:00 pm Glennallen, Seward, Homer
Saturday, March 23:
10:00 am Juneau
11:30 am Kenai, Kodiak, Dillingham
12:30 pm Statewide Teleconference - Offnet Site
The Senate Finance Committee will have the subcommittee budget in front of it as the working document. It will take testimony on items that are in the subcommittee’s recommendation, as well as on items that are not in the subcommittee’s recommendation. This is your chance to convince the committee that additional initiatives from the Board of Regents’ budget should be added to the final budget document.
What should you say? You will have three minutes to make your case.
- Identify yourself by giving your name and affiliation and your Senate District, if you know it.
- State why you are testifying.
- Pick two or three bullet points about the importance of the initiative.
- Then tell your own story!
If you can’t testify, send an email to the members of the Senate Finance Committee, letting them know what you would have said if you had been there. Be sure to thank them. The members are:
The committee intends to amend the operating budget during the week of March 25, and it will then send the budget to the Senate floor for a vote. Once the bill has passed the Senate, a conference committee made up of three members of the Senate and three members of the House will be appointed. The conference committee will have the job of reconciling the very different versions of the budget passed by the House and Senate. The university could end up with the House budget, the Senate budget, or somewhere in between.
Thanks for your advocacy efforts!
The Capitol Report
March 1, 2013
Yesterday was Day 45, the midpoint of the legislative session. The news is not good.
As previously reported, this year the state will end its 8-year run of budget surpluses, a period when revenues exceeded expenses each year, often by billions of dollars. These surpluses allowed the legislature to provide generous operating and capital budgets each session, and still have money left over to put into savings. Many legislators are alarmed by the continuing decline in oil production and the projected reduction in revenue for FY14, and it appears that there is considerable support in the House majority to cut the state operating budget submitted by Governor Parnell.
The governor submitted an FY14 budget for all agencies that proposed a $120 million increase over the level of funding provided in FY13. However, the House Finance Committee’s budget subcommittees are working to reduce the size of the governor’s proposed increase, and so far, they have proposed reductions totaling over $31 million. Not all subcommittees have completed their work, and it is anticipated that the final proposed reduction will be much larger than $31 million. The university’s share of this reduction is currently $2.4 million. These reductions will be considered by the full House Finance Committee on March 11, 12, and 13, when it is scheduled to adopt its version of the state’s FY14 operating budget.
What this budget does:
Assuming this $2.4 million reduction from the governor’s university budget is adopted by the House Finance Committee, the proposed budget would fund UA at a 2.2% increase over the current fiscal year, compared to the governor’s proposed 2.9% increase. The increase includes full funding for the scheduled salary and benefit increases for university employees, plus $407,800 to be spent at the university’s discretion.
What this budget does not do:
The university will have approximately $4.5 million in fixed cost increases in FY14 that will not be funded by this proposal. These increases include things that UA must pay for whether or not they are funded by the legislature, such as the operating costs for new facilities that are scheduled to open during the year. When these things aren’t funded by the legislature, the university must reallocate existing resources or find some other way to pay for them.
In addition, this proposed budget does not fund any of the new high demand programs that were proposed in the Board of Regents’ budget, such as Mandatory Comprehensive Student Advising, Enhanced e-Learning, or the Consolidated Alaska Mining Initiative. You can find a complete list of the programs not in the budget here on page 10.
While this budget proposal is disappointing, it is not surprising in light of the state’s revenue picture, and the concerns about budget sustainability that have been expressed repeatedly by members of the House majority.
The House Finance Committee is going to take statewide public testimony on the operating budget at local Legislative Information Offices on Tuesday, March 5 and Wednesday, March 6. This is the annual opportunity for advocates to have their voices heard. Last year, more UA advocates offered testimony than did advocates for any other entity or program.
You will be asked to identify yourself, including your name, affiliation, and legislative district. The latter gets your legislator’s attention if he or she is at the table. You will have only two minutes to convey your message.
Legislators are not so much interested in the financial details of the budget request as they are to hear your story. Tell them what program initiatives or other issues you are supporting and why, and how they will benefit the state. Talk about personal experiences that demonstrate the value of a program. At the end of your testimony, be sure to thank the legislators for their time and ask for their support of your request.
The budget is not yet finalized in the House Finance Committee, and there still could be additions. However, keep in mind that it is also possible that there could be further cuts.
Here is the schedule:
Tuesday, March 5
1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Juneau*
2:45 - 3:45 p.m. Cordova and Offnets (Bethel, Kotzebue, Nome, Valdez and Wrangell are Offnet sites this year)**
4:00 - 5:15 p.m. Anchorage
Wednesday, March 6
1:30 - 2:45 p.m. Fairbanks
3:00 - 4:00 p.m. Sitka, Petersburg, Barrow, Dillingham, Unalaska, Delta Junction
4:15 - 5:15 p.m. Homer, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Mat-Su, Glennallen, Tok, and Seward
-Public testimony limited to 2 minutes each.
-Please arrive 15 minutes prior to the end of the allotted time or testimony will close early.
*Please try to arrive 15 minutes early to expedite the sign-in process.
** The LIO's in these communities will publish the call-in phone number via public outreach or call your LIO for the information.
House Finance Committee members and alternate members are:
Representative Alan Austerman, Co-Chair, (R) Kodiak
Representative Bill Stoltze, Co-Chair, (R) Chugiak
Representative Mark Neuman, Vice-Chair, (R) Big Lake
Representative Mia Costello, (R) Anchorage
Representative Lindsey Holmes, (R) Anchorage
Representative Cathy Munoz, (R) Juneau
Representative Steve Thompson, (R) Fairbanks
Representative Tammie Wilson, (R) North Pole
Representative Bryce Edgmon, (D) Dillingham
Representative Les Gara, (D) Anchorage (minority member)
Representative David Guttenberg, (D) Fairbanks (minority member)
Representative Mike Hawker, (R) Anchorage (alternate member)
Representative Scott Kawasaki, (D) Fairbanks (minority alternate member)
Once it is finished with public testimony, the House Finance Committee will take the comments it received under consideration and close out the state operating budget on March 11, 12, and 13. Shortly thereafter, the operating budget will be sent to the full House for a vote.
After the budget passes the House, we will do this all over again in the Senate, and then the House and Senate versions of the budget will be reconciled in a conference committee. The Senate has not yet commenced its work on the UA operating budget, and we will let you know when it does.
Thank you for all your work to promote and support the University of Alaska!
The Capitol Report
February 21, 2013
For those planning to attend the legislature’s town hall meetings in Anchorage and Fairbanks on Saturday, or who are sending a written message to legislators in lieu of appearing, here are some guidelines.
What points should I cover during my testimony?
You will have three minutes to convey your message, so short bullet points are essential. You may talk about either the operating budget or the capital budget, or any other legislative issue of interest to you. These meetings are not specifically about the budget, but are intended for legislators to hear whatever constituents think is important. The Anchorage Caucus and the Interior Delegation each contain some members of the House and Senate Finance Committees, as well as some members of the University’s budget review subcommittees.
You will be asked to identify yourself, including your name, affiliation, and legislative district. The latter gets your legislator’s attention if he or she is at the table.
Legislators are not so much interested in the financial details of the budget request as they are to hear your own story. Tell them what program initiatives or capital project you are supporting and why – what will this provide to the state, to Alaskans, to enhance workforce development, student achievements, etc. What will happen if the initiative is not funded?
At the end of your brief testimony, be sure to thank the legislators for their time and ask them for their support of your request.
If you can’t make it to the town hall meetings, send an email to your Senator or Representative, letting them know what you would have said if you had been able to attend.
What’s in the UA FY14 operating budget?
The Board of Regents budget proposal addressed the most pressing funding requirements for the University, such as fixed cost increases, negotiated salary increases, and high priority program initiatives. The Governor reviewed the Regents’ request and submitted a UA budget to the legislature that recommended funding salary increases and most (but not all) fixed cost increases. However, no funding was provided in the Governor’s budget for any of the high-priority program requests.
It is appropriate to advocate for anything in the Regents’ FY14 operating request, and support is needed for any of the program requests to succeed. This opportunity to provide testimony is a very effective way of getting your messages to legislators. It is especially important for ‘outside’ advocates, that is, private citizens, students, alumni, business and industry leaders, and UA partners.
You can find a copy of UA’s FY14 budget request here. The list of new programs requested by the Regents, but not in the Governor’s budget, can be found on page 10. Descriptions of those programs start on page 11.
What’s in the UA FY14 capital budget?
The Governor has submitted a capital budget for UA that includes $37.5 million for deferred maintenance on UA buildings, and for that we are grateful. However, his budget does not include most of the critical capital items requested by the Regents, such as the UAA and UAF engineering buildings completion funding. You can find a side-by-side comparison of the Regents’ capital request and the Governor’s budget here on page 24.
Who will be at the Anchorage and Fairbanks meetings, or listening online in Juneau?
Members of the Anchorage Caucus and the Interior Delegation are as follows:
Representative Charisse Millett, Co-chair
Representative Chris Tuck, Co-chair
Senator Anna Fairclough (member of the Senate Finance Committee, and chair of UA’s budget review subcommittee)
Senator Berta Gardner (member of UA’s budget review subcommittee)
Senator Kevin Meyer (Co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee)
Representative Mia Costello (member of the House Finance Committee)
Representative Les Gara (member of the House Finance Committee)
Representative Mike Hawker (alternate member of the House Finance Committee)
Representative Lindsey Holmes (member of the House Finance Committee)
Representative Andy Josephson (member of UA’s budget review subcommittee)
Representative Lora Reinbold (member of UA’s budget review subcommittee)
Representative Bill Stoltze (Co-chair of the House Finance Committee)
Representative Pete Higgins, Chair
Senator Click Bishop (member of the Senate Finance Committee)
Senator Lyman Hoffman (member of the Senate Finance Committee)
Senator Pete Kelly (Co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee and member of UA’s budget review subcommittee)
Senator Donny Olson (member of the Senate Finance Committee)
Representative David Guttenberg (member of the House Finance Committee and UA’s budget review subcommittee)
Representative Scott Kawasaki (alternate member of the House Finance Committee)
Representative Eric Feige (member of UA’s budget review subcommittee)
Representative Steve Thompson (member of the House Finance Committee)
Representative Tammie Wilson (member of the House Finance Committee)
The Capitol Report
February 20, 2013
Today is the 37th day of the legislative session, and the House’s University Budget Subcommittee is continuing its work. Yesterday, the subcommittee took testimony from Chancellor Brian Rogers, who gave an overview of UAF and discussed its operating budget request. The subcommittee will have a work session on February 23rd, and it plans to close out the UA budget at a meeting on February 26.
The state’s budget picture is bleak. Because of high oil prices, Alaska has enjoyed a budget surplus for the last eight years. This surplus has allowed the legislature to provide generous operating and capital budgets each session, and still have money left over to put into savings. Unfortunately, oil production has declined substantially, and lower production at current prices means that the state will receive an estimated $1 billion less revenue during the upcoming fiscal year. The impact of this drop in revenue will be felt in both the operating and the capital budgets. Many legislators are looking to reduce budgets, not add new programs.
This is why it is imperative that UA advocates get involved in the legislative process, and make their voices heard.
The House Finance Committee has released its schedule for completing work on the FY 14 operating budget. The key dates are as follows:
- Budget subcommittees must finish their work by March 1 (as noted above, UA’s subcommittee is scheduled to finish its work on February 26)
- Statewide public testimony will be taken on the budget from March 4 through March 6
- Proposed amendments to the budget must be submitted by legislators no later than March 6 at 5:00 p.m.
- The House Finance Committee will take up the amendments on March 11 and 12
- The operating budget will be on the House floor on March 13
Critical dates for UA advocacy are March 4 through 6, when the House Finance Committee takes public testimony in Juneau and by statewide teleconference.
How does this teleconference work?
Notice will be posted on the legislature’s committee hearing calendar as to the times that the House Finance Committee will be taking public testimony. Typically, time is allotted for Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, rural, and offnet sites throughout the day. The public is invited to attend these meetings at their local legislative information office where they can sign up to present their testimony. Once the committee receives the roster of speakers, they will call upon each person to come to the table to give a two-minute presentation. They are serious about this time constraint!
Note: We will send out a notice to all list serve members as soon as the times are posted. We will also post it on the UA State Relations webpage.
What if I can’t make it to the hearing?
House Finance Committee members will also accept written testimony sent by mail, email, or fax. It’s also a great idea to copy your own legislators so they know what you are supporting.
Why is this hearing important?
Legislators WANT to hear from their constituents! They will be listening intently and taking notes on what is said and what budget items have the most support. The more University advocates who show up to testify on the budget, the better. Last year, more UA supporters offered testimony than did the supporters of any other entity or issue. Legislators noticed!
We will have more information on this in the near future.
Other advocacy opportunities:
Anchorage Caucus Town Hall Meeting
Legislators representing the Anchorage area will have a public meeting on Saturday, February 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Loussac Library Assembly Chambers. Starting at 9:50, members of the public will get three minutes each to address the legislators. If you can’t make the meeting, send your Senator and Representative an email letting them know what you would have said if you had been there.
Interior Delegation Town Hall Meeting
Legislators representing Fairbanks and the Interior will also have a public meeting on Saturday, February 23. It will be held at the Fairbanks Legislative Information Office (1292 Saddler Way, Room 308) from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. As in Anchorage, members of the public will get three minutes each to address the legislators. If you can’t make the meeting, send your Senator and Representative an email letting them know what you would have said if you had been there.
Also in Juneau this week:
President Pat Gamble appeared before the Senate Finance Committee on February 19 to present the University’s capital budget. Normally this meeting is limited to testimony on capital projects that are in the governor’s capital budget bill, but the committee members wanted to hear about the projects that the Regents had requested but were not in the governor’s bill, such as the UAA and UAF engineering buildings, the UAF power plant planning money, and UAF research projects. As noted above, the state is projected to receive $1 billion less revenue next year, which will have a substantial impact on the size of the final capital budget. It is going to be difficult for legislators to add projects to the governor’s bill, and legislators need to hear how important these UA projects are to their constituents.
The Capitol Report
February 11, 2013
There is a sign outside the House Speaker’s office in the Capitol Building that counts down the days left in the 90-day session. Today marks the 28th day of the 28th Legislature, and with 62 days remaining, things are moving quickly.
Last week, the Senate Education Committee took testimony on Senator Johnny Ellis’s SB 40, a bill proposing funding for the UAA and UAF engineering facilities. This hearing was well attended, and many engineers, students, and other advocates were lined up to give their testimony and show their support. Last session the legislature provided one-half of the funding needed for the project, and this bill proposes to provide the balance. This project is not in the governor’s FY 14 capital budget, and if the legislature decides to provide funding, it will most likely be added directly to the capital budget. SB 40 was introduced for the purpose of generating a discussion, which it certainly has done. We appreciate all the effort that has gone into promoting this project and would encourage the advocacy efforts to continue.
The House Finance Committee is deliberating on the details of the governor’s FY14 operating budget, and has called all the executive branch agencies, the university, and the court system to the table to give an overview of their respective operating budget requests. Each entity has been assigned to a budget subcommittee for a review of the details of its budget, and members of the House Finance Committee as well as other House members serve on each subcommittee. The subcommittees will delve into the details and provide recommendations to the full House Finance Committee at the end of their deliberations.
The House Finance Subcommittee on the University Operating Budget has had two hearings, with a third hearing scheduled for Tuesday, February 12. Members serving on this important subcommittee are:
Representative Cathy Munoz (R) (Chair) from Juneau
Representative Eric Feige (R) from Chickaloon
Representative Lora Reinbold (R) from Eagle River
Representative Shelley Hughes (R) from Palmer
Representative Benjamin Nageak (D) from Barrow
Representative Andy Josephson (D) from Anchorage
Representative David Guttenberg (D) from Fairbanks
Representatives Munoz and Guttenberg are members of the House Finance Committee, but the other subcommittee members are not. All of the members of the subcommittee with the exception of Representative David Guttenberg are new to UA’s budget. The university budget is different than other agency budgets in many respects, so there is much for new members to learn. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for us.
UA President Patrick Gamble has provided an overview of the university system and the budget request, and each of the three UA Chancellors will have time to discuss their campuses and the details of their budgets. UAS Chancellor John Pugh gave his presentation last week. UAA Chancellor Tom Case will give his overview on February 12, and UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers presents on February 19. The subcommittee will have a work session on February 23rd, and it plans to close out the UA Budget at a meeting on February 26.
Public testimony will not be taken at these meetings, as they are by invitation only.
The subcommittee recommendations must be submitted to the full House Finance Committee no later than March 1, and public testimony on the FY14 operating budget will most likely happen the first week of March. Expect to see the public meeting notice posted in late February, with a day-long session of hearings throughout the state staged at times certain in each community.
Once the House Finance Committee takes public testimony and finalizes its version of the FY14 operating budget, it will head to the House floor for a vote. After the House passes the budget, it heads to the Senate Finance Committee for more hearings.
This is the time for advocates to actively engage and submit written comments on programs they support from the Board of Regents’ operating budget request.
Letters or emails can be sent to the subcommittee members listed above, and to members of the House Finance Committee (found here). The programs proposed by the Board of Regents will not be funded if legislators don’t hear from their constituents. House Finance Committee members and subcommittee members need to hear from Alaskans who give them good reasons to put these important initiatives in the budget.
Stay tuned for the public hearing notice on the FY14 operating budget and get your letters and messages in to the legislature now.
Thank you for advocating for the University of Alaska!
Talking points on the FY14 operating budget are available at: www.alaska.edu/state
The Capitol Report
January 28, 2013
The House Finance Committee and its budget subcommittees will be reviewing the governor’s FY14 operating budget over the next five weeks, with plans to close it out in early March before it heads to the House Floor for a vote.
A budget subcommittee will do the detailed review work on the University’s budget and send a recommendation back to the full Finance Committee. The subcommittee is composed of two House Finance Committee members and five legislators who are not members of the Finance Committee. Our subcommittee members include:
Representative Cathy Munoz, Chair (member of House Finance)
Representative Eric Feige
Representative Shelley Hughes
Representative Benjamin NageakRepresentative Lora Reinbold
Representative David Guttenberg (member of House Finance)
Representative Andrew Josephson
The Senate lets the House take the lead on the operating budget and the Senate Finance Committee will do much of its work after the House has passed the budget and transmitted it to the Senate for consideration. The Senate Finance Committee also has a University Budget Subcommittee to do the detail work. The subcommittee is made up of two members of the Senate Finance Committee and two senators who are not members of the Finance Committee. They are:
Senator Anna Fairclough, Chair (member of Senate Finance)
Senator Gary Stevens
Senator Pete Kelly (Co-Chair of Senate Finance)
Senator Berta Gardner
UA President Pat Gamble will give the House’s University Budget Subcommittee an overview on Tuesday, January 29 at 3:00 p.m. The subcommittee has asked to hear about UA’s mission, core services, accomplishments, and challenges, among other things.
The Senate Finance Committee will have an overview of the University’s budget on Wednesday, January 30 at 9:00 a.m. President Gamble will also present that overview.
Also on Wednesday, President Gamble will make a State of the University presentation to a joint meeting of the House Education Committee and the Senate Education Committee. That meeting takes place at 3:00 p.m.
The House’s University Budget Subcommittee has additional meetings scheduled on February 5, 12, 19, and 26 at 3:00 p.m. Testimony is by invitation only. Opportunities for public testimony will probably come in early March, and we will post that information on the State Relations website as well as share it in The Capitol Report.
The Capitol Report - 1/22/2013
The First Session of the 28th Alaska State Legislature is underway in Juneau, and the 90- day session should be an interesting one. My name is Chris Christensen, and I am the Associate Vice President for State Relations. This will be the 30th session I have spent working with the legislature in Juneau, although it will only be my second year representing the university. I know the legislature and its members well, but each year brings new challenges and unexpected complications. One thing I have learned in my brief time here is that there are many passionate advocates for the university, people who are willing to devote their time and energy to advancing its interests. You made my job much easier last session, and I look forward to working with all of you again this year.
Over the course of the legislative session, you will be receiving this newsletter periodically to keep you up to date on what is happening in Juneau. When there are important hearings or opportunities to actively engage in advocacy for the university, we will also post it on the UA Statewide State Relations website: ( http://www.alaska.edu/state ).
You should be aware that there are many new faces in the legislature. Six of the twenty members of the Senate are new this session (three are first-time legislators, two served in the House last year, and one was a Senate member ten years ago). Eleven of the forty House members are also new this session, with one of them having previously served in the House some years ago. So, we will be working with many legislators who are familiar with the university and its issues, as well as with a significant number of legislators who are not. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity.
Our most important task each session is advocating for the university’s operating and capital budgets. Governor Parnell submitted his FY14 budgets to the legislature on December 15. He has once again taken a ‘hold the line’ approach to the State’s budget, and for the university budget has endorsed salary increases, some fixed cost increases, and $37.5 million for deferred maintenance. We are grateful to Governor Parnell for his support on those items. Unfortunately, the Governor’s budget does not include many essential things such as the high demand program increments that the Board of Regents has proposed and that are critical to our mission; funds for completion of the UAA/UAF engineering buildings project; or the additional deferred maintenance funding needed to preserve and protect the State’s investment in our physical plant. Our job over the next three months will be to convince the legislature and the Governor that these items are an important investment in Alaska’s future, and should be funded.
The House and Senate Finance Committees have already begun their work on the operating budget. University President Pat Gamble will appear before the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, January 22 from 1:30 – 3:30 to give committee members an overview on UA and its operating budget. He will provide a similar overview to the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, January 30 from 9:00 – 11:00. We will keep you updated as budget hearings are added to the schedule.
Here are some handy reference guides for your information and use. We will also post them on the State Relations website for easy access:
A roster of legislative members with contact information – Note that all legislative email addresses have been changed this year to reflect the following address: Representative (or Senator)_FirstName_LastName@akleg.gov. This long-awaited address change is intended to make it easier to contact legislators.
BASIS – A great reference tool to locate specific legislation, sponsors, legislative actions, and a host of other reference materials.
Thank you for supporting the University of Alaska!