I’ve always been a strong supporter of education, as both a teacher and legislator.
- Continuous member of the Education Committee and served as Chairman
- Sponsored and got signed into law the 2018 separate and early funding of Education HB287
- The House Coalition stopped the FY 2018 attempt by the Senate and House Republican plan to cut $69 million from K-12
- This year for FY 2019 we added 20 million ($78/student) and we also achieved a 30 million addition and forward funded the FY 2020 K-12 budget
- I proposed and passed doubling the Pre-K grants budget by adding 3 million to both FY 2019 and 2020
- I staunchly defended the Alaska Performance Scholarship from Senate cuts
Dear Teachers and others with K-12 education focus,
I want to personally thank you for choosing to be a teacher, and for educating our future generations. As a past science teacher I know how hard you work, and how much time you devote to your job, both inside and outside the classroom.
It is unfortunate that we are losing the education culture we once had. I am working hard to retain our education culture by trying to make sure teachers get the pay they deserve and the resources they need to succeed in the classroom. Since FY15, state aid to school districts has been reduced by more than $22 million but in 2017 and 2018 the House Majority Coalition made sure no cuts occurred. Cutting education (such as the Senate’s $69 million budget cut in 2017) has been viewed in the Legislature as an opportunity to save money. I will continue to work to stabilize education funding.
I introduced HB 287 early this session. The bill was signed by the Governor and appropriates $1.3 billion for K-12 Education and student transportation for the upcoming school year. Most importantly this establishes a procedure to eliminate the yearly pink slip issue. The bill also adds $30 million to the following year, which is the equivalent of a $117 BSA increase (though only for FY20). For the upcoming school year (FY19), the House Majority Coalition successfully added $20 million as grants to school districts – the equivalent of a $78 BSA increase compared to last year. We also secured $3 million in additional funding for Pre-K programs in both FY19 and FY20. I am proud of the work the House Majority Coalition was able to accomplish by making funding for education a priority.
To maintain an education culture, we need to stabilize education funding. This can only be done with a comprehensive fiscal plan. The passage of SB 26 limits the percentage of the Earnings Reserve Account within the Alaska Permanent Fund and helps close the budget gap. A complete fiscal plan will need to adopt a broad-based tax, such as a state income tax or sales tax. Every other state uses one or both of these revenues. Partisan politics can get in the way of education. I have changed my party registration to Non-Partisan and intend to work with all interested Representatives to move Alaska forward.
Again, thanks for being there and for doing what you do. If you have any questions on the budget or any other concerns, please feel free to contact me. Your involvement in the political process is important to the future of education. I ask for your support and vote this year.