(JUNEAU) - House Speaker Pete Kott (R-Eagle River) appointed the membership for a Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday to address Alaska's urgent fiscal issues. The nine-member committee will analyze saving, spending and revenue raising options to control the state budget while providing essential state services and protecting the state's economic stability at the same time. Rep. Jim Whitaker (R Fairbanks) and Rep. Mike Hawker (R-Anchorage/Girdwood/Portage/Whittier) will co-chair the committee, which includes Rep. Max Gruenberg (D-Anchorage), Rep. Cheryll Heinze (R-Anchorage), Rep. Vic Kohring (R-Wasilla), Rep. Carl Moses (D-Unalaska), Rules chair Rep. Norman Rokeberg (R-Anchorage), Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch (R-Juneau), and Rep. Peggy Wilson (R-Wrangell).
"Our job is to educate Alaskans on the serious fiscal challenge in this state," House Speaker Pete Kott (R Eagle River) said. "The first step is to raise the discussion of all the viable options to ensure fiscal stability for Alaska. This committee is for that purpose."
Rep. Hawker oversees the Health, Education, and Social Services budget for the House Finance Committee. He said a wide range of fiscal concepts will be discussed and evaluated as the committee researches solutions.
"I'm approaching this committee with no preconceptions," Hawker said. "We have a diverse committee that represents the broad variety of fiscal philosophies within the House, and I believe that we have an opportunity to chart a course for the state of Alaska that will get us where we want to go."
Rep. Whitaker also serves on the Finance Committee. He said the committee's most important goals are to first consider methods to control state spending, then make state government more efficient, and finally find new sources of revenue for the state. However, he said that time demands that the committee consider these three objectives simultaneously.
"We don't have the luxury of time to do each of these tasks and wait for results," Whitaker said. "We must do all three in a concise, logical, and publicly acceptable manner."
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"We don't have the luxury of time to do each of these tasks and wait for results. We must do all three in a concise, logical, and publicly acceptable manner."