May 26, 2005
"We decided to remain in Juneau for an additional two weeks because the legislation before us was so important to our state. Reforming the public employees pension and workers' compensation systems will be remembered as the historic achievements of this session," said Senate President Ben Stevens (R- Anchorage).
"Alaska's workers' compensation system has the second highest rates in the country. Small business owners were crying out to us for some relief. SB 130 will not only slow the future growth of rates it creates an appeals board that will bring consistency and fairness to workers' compensation cases," said Sen. Ralph Seekins (R - Fairbanks).
Majority Leader Gary Stevens (R - Kodiak) believes it was a hard fought, yet rewarding session. "The past four months were a challenge for every legislator. However, I am glad to say we worked together with the house and wrapped up the people's business."
Here are just some of the accomplishments of the special session:
SB 141 - Creates portable, modern 401-K type retirement accounts for future public employees and teachers. It is the first critical step to closing the $5.7 billion dollar shortfall in the public employee and teacher retirement systems.
SB 130 - Reforms the workers' compensation system by stemming future rate growth and creating an innovative appeals board to hear workers compensation claims.
SB 46 - FY 06 capital budget. A visionary public works bill that invests $480 million dollars in general fund revenue to renovating and constructing public schools, breaking traffic bottlenecks and expanding the statewide university system.
HB 1 - Boosts K-12 public education funding by $70 million dollars. That increases the base student allocation to $4,919 per student. This in addition to the record $82 million dollars added last year. HB 67 - FY 06 operating budget. Using a combination of bills it invests $2.6 billion dollars in general fund revenue, a $255 million dollar increase over FY 05, in public safety, core Alaskan industries and strengthening the social services safety net.
SB 73 - Funds the construction of a new state virology lab in Fairbanks. Scientists will ability to track the spread and progress of potentially harmful viruses in the state.
HB 130 - The University of Alaska Land Grant bill will transfer thousands of acres of public land to the university system. This will finally fulfill the university's status as a land grant college so it can create its own financial base to support university operations.
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