News from the Senate and House Majorities
22nd Legislature Ends
(JUNEAU) - The Twenty-Second Alaska Legislature concluded its first session Tuesday evening having successfully addressed key issues important to Alaskans, including supporting education, encouraging gas line development, fighting alcohol abuse, and building the state's infrastructure and economy.
Completion of a five-year, $250 million state government reduction plan afforded the Republican-led Majority the opportunity this year to make significant new investments in vital state functions, including education, alcohol prevention, economic development and infrastructure, legislative leaders said.
"This session has been notable for the high degree of civility and adherence to the public process members have shown in working through issues that are important to us all," said Speaker of the House Brian Porter (R-Anchorage). "Through quiet deliberation and dedication to the legislative process, we produced fewer headlines, but, I believe, more lasting results for Alaskans."
"We started the session with a number of important issues and we gave them the consideration they deserved," said Senate President Rick Halford (R-Chugiak). "We passed reforms to our competency exam laws that are fair but still expect the best from our students, we helped lay the foundation for the construction of a natural gas pipeline, and we took steps to curb Alaska's suicide epidemic."
Halford and Porter pointed to the major accomplishments of the 22nd Legislature's first session in the areas most important to Alaskans:
Alcohol and Tobacco
"This year Alaskans said education was their top priority, and we responded, providing some of the largest increases in education funding in state history," said Sen. Dave Donley (R-Anchorage), co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. "We increased state spending on education by more than $34 million in a number of areas, including increasing the base student allocation in the education foundation funding formula. Making sure all of Alaska's students receive the best possible education is the wisest investment in our future we can make."
"Our success in the Finance Committee this year clearly demonstrates the advantages of budgeting according to missions and measures ? defining the results we want from government, and making sure it's delivering," said Rep. Eldon Mulder (R-Anchorage), co-chair of the House Finance Committee. "We saw departments, divisions and programs think more directly about what it is they're trying to do and how they're providing their services, and I think it's made them more effective in the way they've been able to deliver those services."
"The Legislature is making significant investments in Alaska's infrastructure, in the schools, roads, airports, utilities, harbors and ports that help bind our big state into a single community," said Rep. Bill Williams (R-Saxman), co-chair of the House Finance Committee. "Using state and federal funds to the best advantage, we'll build and improve roads around the state, improve water and wastewater services in our villages, build needed facilities at University of Alaska campuses, construct juvenile corrections facilities in Kenai and Fairbanks, and renovate homes for senior citizens."
"It is important to note that while we increased funding this year, we didn't erase the five years of hard work that went into cutting $250 million in unnecessary spending from the budget," said Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks), co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. "We considered each addition carefully, provided more money where it was truly needed, and still came in more than $60 million under the governor's proposed spending plan. Alaskans trust us to spend their money prudently, and we definitely did that this session."
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Audio comments are available on the Majority Actuality line:
= Eldon Mulder, 110 K