Compromise met on education funding

The Alaska Dispatch reports compromise agreed on by committee

Click here for full article.

Alaska Senate, House agree on education bill, but funding discontent remains

Pat Forgey

A committee tasked to solve differences between House and Senate versions of Gov. Parnell’s omnibus education bill has announced Wednesday evening a deal on most issues, but one that puts some contentious issues off for further study. Pictured are students attending Academy Charter School in Palmer, Feb 5, 2014.

JUNEAU — Schools around Alaska next year will get more money, as well as an increase in the base student allocation they’ve long been seeking, but critics of the deal announced Wednesday evening say both amounts are far too small.

“We’ve just locked in three years of cuts,” said Alyse Galvin, with Great Alaska Schools, an informal group of parents and school advocates who were pushing for better school funding.

Click here for rest of article from Alaska Dispatch.


LNG Gasline closer to reality with passage of SB138

LNG Gasline closer to reality with passage of SB138

A long-time goal of building a large-diameter gasline to provide natural gas to Alaskans and a new petroleum product to export is closer to becoming a reality with the passage of Senate Bill 138.

SB 138 was a key priority for Governor Sean Parnell who called its passage a historic event and the beginning of the Alaska LNG Project. The measure also gives Alaska an equity-share in the gasline.

“Alaskans have waited a long time for a gasline,” he said.

Governor Parnell’s Comments

The governor speaking on SB 138 during his first ever Virtual Town Hall Meeting held April 16.

Passage of SB 138 is the first in a series of actions that must be taken over the next four to five years to allow for the development of Alaska’s North Slope natural gas resources.

That comes from a 24-page report produced for the legislature that analyzes, explains and discusses the key issues involved in building the LNG pipeline.

SB 138 both authorizes certain negotiations and provides a broad roadmap for how the Legislature will oversee and consent to these negotiations, the report summarizes.

  Currently, the project consists of three related mega-projects. They include:

  • a gas treatment plant on the North Slope,
  • an 800-mile large-diameter pipeline from the North Slope to Nikiski, and
  • an LNG export facility at Nikiski.
  • Another major component calls for at least five off-take points for gas consumption within the state.

If all goes well, the gasline could be completed by 2020.


Senate Passes Historic Legislation to Advance Alaska LNG Project

Frequently Asked Questions about the Alaska LNG Project report by Mayer & Tsafos

 Alaska Gasline Development Corporation Website

Top Photo: Courtesy ConocoPhillips

Kodiak schools forced to adopt budget without knowing state funding for next year

Reprinted from

Apr 22 2014

Amidst Fiscal Uncertainty, School Budget Passes

Maggie Wall/KMXT

The Alaska Legislature continues to struggle to come up with a funding plan for the state’s education system. That has put a real wrench into plans for the local school budget.

Because of deadlines and timetables, the Kodiak Island Borough School District must present a budget for next year to the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly on Thursday. To meet the Thursday deadline, the school board had to approve its proposed Fiscal Year 2015 Budget at last night’s regular meeting.

So, how do you prepare a school budget in the range of $50 million when the bulk of your funding comes from the legislature and the legislature hasn’t yet figured out how much it will provide in funding?

The Answer:   You base the budget on what you do know, pick a mid-range figure for what the state will provide, and you hope for the best.

The school board and borough assembly will meet in a special joint work session on Thursday. Hopefully, by then they will know what the legislature will fund so they can adjust the proposed budget based on actual figures.

The school board approved a $51 million budget for Fiscal Year 2015 which begins July 1.

The budget assumes the legislature increases the Base Student Allocation by $185, and it asks the borough for $522,000 more than the current year.


Committee to take up Education Bill on Tuesday at 10

Committee to take up Education Bill on Tuesday at 10

Gavel Alaska is reporting Conference Committee on Education will continue meeting on Tuesday morning.

Retweeted by The LegHead Report
Gavel Alaska ‏@GavelAlaska 22m

Conference committee on education bill has been rescheduled to 10 am tomorrow. Senate & House meeting back up at 11 am. #akleg

#akleg  on Twitter is the place to go for latest updates on what is happening in Juneau. Alaska Legislature members and Alaska press are constantly posting update and info.

I’m sitting here listening to the Kodiak Island Borough School Board meeting which must OK a budget for next year tonight then meet with the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly on Thursday…Kind of challenging to present a reasonable budget while still waiting for legislature to approve school funding…Maggie

Photo from Alaska Democratic Caucus Facebook Page.

What legislators say about session and bills

See this article on How to Find Out Which Bills Got Passed.

A good way to track what got passed and what the various legislators think about the session and the issues they dealt with is to go to the four different caucus websites and read press releases, newsletter summaries being sent to constituents, as well as Twitter and Facebook posts.

Here are the links the four caucus groups in the Alaska Legislature.

House Majority Republican Caucus

Check out “Latest News” tab and also look at bottom of page for summary of most viewed, etc.  Usually, they post end of session press availability and assorted audio – video items under “Recent Media.”

This caucus site is the best for post-session press releases and bill summaries during the first few days after the session. Also it is the best site to follow for what bills have been signed by the governor, usually with a press release for each bill as it’s signed. Those often take several months to process, so bookmark the site and check back often.

This site tends to be the most active of the four in the off-session, interim months.

Also be sure to check those newsletters to constituents that summarize what happened in Juneau. They are some of the best sources of info in terms of being easy to understand. Also, you get background or “asides” from the legislators that you won’t get anywhere else.

  Senate Majority Republican Caucus

The Senate Majority also does a good job of posting press releases and updates on bill progress and signings after the session is over. Same with audio-video. And same as above for constituent newsletters.  Be sure to check the bottom of the home page for latest updates and “In the News” where you’ll find articles, etc. from Alaska media about what Senate does.

The House Minority and the Senate Minority

The Majority Caucuses have the money and the staff to do lots of press stuff, but the two minority caucuses generally have viewpoints and materials you won’t find anywhere else–partly because they don’t get the press coverage the majority does.

(The majority controls the legislature so most of the bills passed are majority bills, so that makes it a fact of political life, not necessarily a pro-Republican thing in terms of press coverage.)

The updates to constituents written by the minority legislators tend to have a totally different tone from those of majority legislators. Plus, the different perspective is refreshing–sometimes the only place you’ll hear many of these thoughts expressed are in the minority members’ letters to their constituents.

Alaska Senate Democrats News Room

The Senate Minority’s take on what happened in the legislature and perspectives on different bills.

Alaska House Democrats Website

This takes you to home page of House Minority’s website which includes recent press releases and commentary. The House Democrats are really good at Facebook and Twitter.

(They won my vote as a good source of info back in the beginning of the year when their Facebook post was virtually the only mention of the State of the State Address before it happened…Maggie)

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