Members Appreciate Enthusiastic Responses
Juneau -- Thursday night, members of the Senate Finance Committee listened to public testimony about next year's operating budget. Over 80 Alaskans from across the state shared their thoughts on a variety of issues, most promoting investing in education. Many others faxed or mailed their comments to the committee.
"I think the priorities reflected by tonight's testimony are the priorities for all Alaska," said Senator Gary Wilken (R-Fairbanks). "They overwhelmingly reflected the concern for funding K-12 and for the university."
Senator Sean Parnell (R-Anchorage), Senate Finance Co-Chair, recognized that a lot of testimony addressed early childhood development - a major legislative concern. "The Senate's proposed budget reflects children as our priority," said Parnell. "A number of Alaskans spoke out last night for funding programs like Head Start, childcare assistance and day care. The Senate's budget recognizes and is aligned with these concerns regarding the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development."
One issue that drew considerable discussion was the use of tobacco settlement proceeds to fund tobacco cessation and prevention programs in Alaska schools. The testimony was nearly universal in showing appreciation for the legislature providing the existing program funding. Many of the speakers said they wanted more.
Senator John Torgerson (R-Kasilof), Senate Finance Co-Chair, was impressed that people across the entire state took the time to participate in the legislative process. "We had callers from Barrow to Wrangell, Unalaska to Anchorage," said Torgerson. "They spoke with passion and dignity about the issues that mattered to them. Many of the speakers were appreciative of our efforts to improve the lives of Alaskans. It was gratifying to know we were speaking from the same sheet of music."
For those unable to participate in last night's hearing, please fax your written comments, along with your name and residence, to (907) 465-6592.
See Following Attachments:
Senate Finance FY01 Budget Subcommittee Highlights
Spreadsheets / Subcommittee Narrative Reports:
= Sean Parnell, 39 K = John Torgerson, 37 K
= Gary Wilken, 25 K