By Rep. Dan Ortiz
April 21, 2022
Oil prices this year also gave us the funds to prioritize our investment in education. In addition to $1.2 billion for forward funding education and a $1.6 million appropriation to fund the WWAMI Medical Education program for two years, the House approved $111 million to fully fund School Bond Debt and REAA for FY23 and $66 million to pay the 50% that wasn’t paid for FY22 due to the failed ¾ CBR vote. This is an important and overdue investment in our students, and helps to relieve pressure to increase property taxes at the local level.
The House also voted to fully fund the Alaska Marine Highway through 2023 for $141 million, with 82 million coming from federal infrastructure IJJA Act funds. While this influx of federal funds will help with much-needed vessel replacement and maintenance, continued state funding for AMHS is necessary to show long-term investment towards returning Alaska’s ferry service to a consistent, reliable, and affordable system. Our ferry system remains one of my priorities, and this funding is a critical way to strengthen our regional economies and make sure Southeast Alaskan communities stay connected.
While I have heard a lot of support from my constituents for funding ferries and education, I’m also excited to see other investments in our communities. This budget adds $1.5 million in grants for rural public radio stations like KRBD and KSTK, an additional $5 million for Seniors & Disabilities services, and $1.2 in Behavioral Health grants. Most importantly, the House voted to add $2.2 billion in savings to the Statutory Budget Reserve by the end of FY23, which will help ensure Alaskans are protected through fluctuations in oil prices, natural disasters, or other changes in our future fiscal situation. This operating budget gives Alaskans a lot to work with, and we will see some good use of this funding in District 36. As always, I appreciate hearing your concerns and questions, and you can always reach me by emailing Rep.Dan.Ortiz@AKLeg.gov or calling my office at 907-247-4672.
Rep. Dan Ortiz
Received April 19, 2022 - Published April 21, 2022
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