SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Budget Proposals; Let your voice be heard

By Rep. Dan Ortiz


April 08, 2017
Saturday PM

As expected, it’s been a challenging legislative session, and from here on, the budget will be the forefront of every discussion. Both the House and the Senate are creating Alaska’s budget, but it’s clear that the bodies have differing approaches.

Last week, I wrote a letter explaining the House approach to resolving Alaska’s fiscal crisis. To recap, the House proposed budget is $81.7 million in General Funds less than our current fiscal year. State agencies have been reduced by $62 million. Despite these cuts, the House Majority Coalition, of which I am a part, is united in protecting vital services, like education, Pioneer Homes, and the Alaska Marine Highway System. In regards to revenue, we are also working on polishing an oil tax credit reform bill and a modest school income tax bill.

The Senate unveiled their budget on Monday, April 3. Significant differences between the House and Senate operating budgets are education, senior services, and Alaska Marine Highway System funding.

Their education plan cuts $69 million to the Base Student Allocation (BSA). This action doesn’t solve our fiscal crisis, but merely passes the burden to our local municipalities. Ketchikan schools would lose $1.4 million, Annette Island schools would lose over $260,000, and Wrangell schools would lose almost $200,000. Pupil transportation reductions would put another $226,000 on the chopping block in Ketchikan alone.

The Senate budget reduces funding for Pioneers Homes by $6.5 million or 12.7% in addition to reductions made over the last two years of $3.3 million Unrestricted General Funds. Staff position eliminations would be inevitable, and with less staff, fewer beds would remain open. As beds remain unfilled, revenues associated with an individual’s care – whether private insurance, individual assets, or Medicaid – will also diminish. The true reduction may be closer to $9 million. According to our local Pioneer Home director, this would result in the closure of two of our six Pioneer Homes throughout Alaska.

The Alaska Marine Highway System lost funding under the Senate’s budget: $4.8 million in General Funds was cut. Of that, $4 million is designated as one-time only money, which means that in FY19, the AMHS budget would be $8.8 million less than the current year (FY17).

We have two significantly different budget proposals before us. Let your voice be heard so that legislators will create a final budget that reflects Alaskans’ priorities. My phone number is (907)-247-4672 and email is

Rep. Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, Alaska


Received April 07, 2017 - Published April 08, 2017


Senate Passes Budget, Back to Alaska House for Concurrence By MARY KAUFFMAN - The Alaska Senate Majority passed what they say is a sustainable operating budget Thursday, reducing state spending by $276 million after a precipitous drop in the price of oil left the state with a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall. However, Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) says the Senate Republican Majority is choosing to balance the budget on the backs of kids, public health, foster kids, veterans, and working families. - More...
Saturday - April 08, 2017


Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor


Representations of fact and opinions in letters are solely those of the author.
The opinions of the author do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.

E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for letter publication.

Published letters become the property of SitNews.

SitNews ©2016
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

Articles & photographs that appear in SitNews may be protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without written permission from and payment of any required fees to the proper sources.

E-mail your news & photos to

Photographers choosing to submit photographs for publication to SitNews are in doing so granting their permission for publication and for archiving. SitNews does not sell photographs. All requests for purchasing a photograph will be emailed to the photographer.