Governor’s Proposed FY20 Budget

by Representative Tiffany Zulkosky

March 1, 2019: Dear friends,

It is Day 42 in the Legislative Session and we have begun to see a lot of activity. Most notably, Governor Dunleavy released his proposed budget, the House of Representatives organized, and Rep. Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham) was re-elected as Speaker of the House.

Governor’s Proposed FY20 Budget

“Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” – Vice President Joe Biden

Initial review of the Governor’s budget includes unprecedented cuts to education, rural public safety, Medicaid and many other areas. A sample of these cuts include:

•Reducing K-12 Education funding by approximately $273 million, or 24%

•Zeroing out the Power Cost Equalization Endowment Fund, sweeping dollars for the program into the General Fund

•Reducing roughly $707 million in Medicaid funds, over half of which is federal receipt authority

•Eliminating approximately $17.1 million for the Tribal Assistance Program, under Public Assistance

•Eliminating the Rural Power Systems Upgrades through the Alaska Energy Authority, previously funded at about $17.5 million

•Eliminating funding for Public Broadcasting

•Reducing the Village Public Safety Officer program by $3 million, or 22%

•Reducing funding for rural airports

•Reducing the University of Alaska budget by approximately $134 million, or 41%

We continue to evaluate the budget proposal and its impact throughout the state. I have heard overwhelmingly from constituents rightly concerned by the harm this budget would have on vulnerable constituents, rural areas and communities across the state. As the House Finance Committee schedules opportunities for public comment, I will keep you informed on how to participate.

I remain unwavering in my commitment to protect critical programs, essential to supporting the well-being of our district and the state.

Committee Assignments

I am pleased to announce my Committee Assignments for the 31st Legislature.

I will serve as Co-Chair of the House Health & Social Services Committee with Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage), member of the House Education Committee, and member of the House Special Committee on Energy.

Today, in a 37-1 vote, the House established the state’s first-ever House Special Committee on Tribal Affairs. I am honored to serve as Chair of this historic committee and elevate conversations and opportunities that will strengthen our state’s collaboration with Alaska tribes.

As the weeks have gotten longer in Juneau, it has been wonderful to catch up with community and regional leaders in town for various meetings! I met with Mayor Joseph Fitka (Marshall) to discuss the community’s proposed rock quarry project. While visiting with AVCP President & CEO Vivian Korthuis, we discussed the importance of the VPSO program and rural public safety funding.

I was happy to visit with healthcare leaders from my home region. YKHC President & CEO Dan Winkelman and Board Member Patricia Yaska (Chuathbaluk) stopped by during the Alaska Native Health Board’s visit to Juneau. Last week Bethel Family Clinic representatives Perry Barr, Jon and Anny Cochrane (with Jellybean) and Alaska Primary Care Association’s Nancy Merriman came by the office to discuss the important role of Community Health Centers.

It has been a few weeks of hosting young leaders of a new generation! I was proud to visit with members of Juneau’s Teen Council, who were advocating to strengthen non-discrimination and equal rights protections in schools, as well as improving access to comprehensive sex education. I also loved getting to know Dasia, Chloe and Desra, who are leaders in their school in Chenega. These ladies raised money to travel to Juneau to learn all about the Alaska Legislature!

Quyana Bethel City Council for your advocacy! Council Member Carole Jung-Jordan and Mayor Fred Watson visited the Capitol during the recent Alaska Municipal League conference.

Donlin Gold Pipeline Comment Period

The proposed pipeline would transport natural gas from the Beluga Natural Gas Pipeline system to the Donlin Gold mine. The 14-inch diameter pipeline would originate 7.7 miles north of the Beluga Power Plant and terminate at the Donlin Gold mine, which is about 10 miles north of Crooked Creek. Of the proposed 315-mile-long pipeline, approximately 207 miles would be located on State of Alaska Lands. Donlin has requested a 150-foot-wide right-of-way (ROW) for pipeline construction and a 50-foot-wide right-of-way for operations. Additionally, the Department of Natural Resources is proposing to close the lands within the proposed ROW, plus 100 feet on either side, to mineral entry through Mineral Order 1212 for the protection of the pipeline. The mineral order would potentially affect up to 14,706 acres of State lands, reducing to roughly 6,250 acres after construction.

McGrath Community Center: February 27, 4:00-6:00pm

Tyonek Tribal Center: February 28, 1:00-2:00pm

Bethel Cultural Center: March 4, 6:00-8:00pm

Aniak Community Center: March 6, 7:00-9:00pm

Atwood Conf. Center (Anchorage): March 12, 5:30-7:30pm

Skwentna Roadhouse: March 13, 11:00am-1:00pm

More information on the DNR Commissioner’s proposed decision can be found at All comments about the Commissioner’s Analysis and Proposed Decision must be submitted in writing to the SPCS before 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 22, addressed to:

State Pipeline Coordinator’s Section

3651 Penland Parkway

Anchorage, AK 99508

Phone: (907) 269-6479

Fax: (907) 269-6880

Email: [email protected]