Action Line: Rep. Johnanthan Kreiss-Tomkins on funding, preventing layoff warnings

    "You're kind of playing chicken when you're trying to pass the budget with peoples' livelihoods and, to a certain extent, the state's economy at stake."

    The minority in the State House agreed to provide its support for tapping the Constitutional Budget Reserve in order to prevent layoff warnings from going out to state employees.

    A member of the House minority, Sitka Representative Jonathan Kreiss Tomkins, talked about that on Action Line Wednesday.

    Kreiss-Tomkins says tapping the CBR is not the way they wanted to go.

    "You're kind of playing chicken when you're trying to pass the budget with peoples' livelihoods and, to a certain extent, the state's economy at stake. It's hardly ideal. I'm not crazy about drawing off savings to pay the budget this year. It's perhaps the lesser of two unfortunate choices."

    Kreiss-Tomkins says there were many elements to the final budget package including many important to Juneau, rural Southeast Alaska, as well as the state as a whole.  They amounted to restoration of funding that moderated some of the deeper cuts initially proposed.

    "There's some funding that's supposed to be with the ferry system if I'm recalling correctly. Initially, the Senate - and one legislator in particular - was advocating withholding some cruise ship port communities such as Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Skagway, Hoonah, and etcetera. Cruise ship head tax dollars were reversed. Communities such as Juneau will get cruise ship head tax dollars that were effectively statutorily promised or guaranteed to them. There's some public education funding as well. There was a last minute cut to the public education funding in the state of Alaska through what is called the Base Student Allocation; that cut was reversed so we sort of have status quo from public education."

    He added that $35 million of the proposed $50 million cut to the University of Alaska was restored.

    Kreiss-Tomkins is calling on Governor Walker to call as many special sessions as it takes to get that done.  Otherwise, he says you're just kicking the can down the road.

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