Citizens seek ballot petition

    Ketchikan, Alaska (KINY) Alaskans for Integrity continue to gather signatures to place a initiative on the 2018 ballot that would impact legislator per diem and the influence of lobbyists and foreign entities.

    Terry Robbins visited with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough this week to update them on the progress they are making.  She said one part of the initiative is designed to encourage lawmakers to get a state budget approved quicker each year.  If not they would face personal impacts on their wallets.  "It bans our legislators from collecting per diem if they are unable to pass the budget by the end of the session.  If they go past 120 days they will not receive per diem unitl the budget is approved."

    The measure would also limit overseas trips taken by legislators that are funded by taxpayers.  It also would limit the amount lobbyists can spent on legislators for meals and alcoholic drinks.

    State Representative Dan Ortiz said he supports the measure.  He said he would like to avoid the state sending out letters to teachers and state workers that threaten them with job losses.  "There is a lot of chaos that is not really needed.  Since I've been there I wonder why we can't do something 45 days earlier than we do it, there is no reason, the questions are the same and the debate is the same.  It is frustrating that we can't come up with a budget decision until the final last minute and a government shutdown.  It's crazy."

    Ortiz said the state education budget proposal is flat and there isn't much to look forward to in capital projects.  He said the Governor's plan for a 1.5 percent head tax is tied to infrastructure grants.  He said if approved, Southeast Alaska would benefit with grants designed to improve harbors in the region.  He said $10 million is set aside for these grants in the proposed budget, provided the new tax is approved.


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