State Relations Update

The Second Session of the 26th Alaska State Legislature began on Jan. 19, 2010, and is off to a quick start.

There’s already interesting news to report, as far as University of Alaska employees are concerned. Gov. Sean Parnell announced a five-year, $100 million per year plan to improve public buildings and infrastructure, which would provide the UA system with $37.5 million per year. The UA  Board of Regents for many years has put maintenance as its first priority in the system’s annual capital budgets. This year’s request is $37.5 million for maintenance, which aligns with Parnell’s proposal perfectly.

The governor also announced his support for the Life Sciences Classroom and Lab Facility (SB 226) , a statewide research and teaching facility on the UAF campus. A similar bill was introduced by Sen. Thomas last session. The Life Sciences project is the regents’ No. 1 new construction request for the FY11 budget cycle.

Gov. Parnell’s operating budget for the university in FY11, at $339 million in state appropriations, includes money for most of the university’s fixed costs as well as $950,000 in new money for energy programs.

The budget bills will be debated in the months ahead, with the operating budget discussed first and then the capital budget most likely last.  The first overview of the University of Alaska’s budget by the House Finance Committee is set for 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 28.

There are a number of other exciting bills related to the university, including the Governor’s Performance Scholarship (HB 297 and SB 224), two separate pieces of land-grant legislation (HB 295 and SB 225), a bill that would establish an advisory task force on higher education (SB 221) and many others. To learn more, check out the university’s State Relations website, at www.alaska.edu/state. There, you’ll find a “bill tracker” feature that will be periodically updated. You’ll also find links to the Legislature’s BASIS system, which tracks all legislation, provides committee schedules, offers a searchable database of bills and provides links to teleconferences and videoconferences of committee hearings.

On the UA State Relations Site you’ll also find a link to sign up for updates and information through the SupportUA-L listserve. If you know a business person who hires UA graduates, an interested alum, a parent of a UA student, etc., let them know about the SupportUA-L listserve as well. If you aren’t interested in receiving messages from SupportUA-L, there is a link to have your name removed.

The System Governance Office notes the following dates for various trips to the state capital:
•    Feb. 20-23, 2010, Student Legislative Conference
•    March 16-17, 2010, Staff Alliance Retreat
•    March 21-23, 2010, UAF Alumni Association Fly-In

In addition, the UAA Faculty and Staff Association, a non-UA sponsored advocacy group in existence since 1971 and supported by membership dues, will be in Juneau Feb. 8 & 9, reports the co-chair.

The Bluebook, the Govenor's proposed FY11 operating and capital budget requests can be viewed HERE.

The Redbook, the approved UA Board of Regents' FY11 operating and capital requests, is available HERE.

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