Let’s make Alaska government work smarter

Ever had an old car start to break down?
Maybe the filters get clogged and the tires wear down and you find yourself burning money as your gas mileage deteriorates. The brake pads start to squeak, “check engine” lights flicker on, and you begin to notice that ominous clicking sound from what you think is probably the radiator.
If you’ve spent at least a couple winters in the 49th state, chances are good this has happened to you. You’d like to ignore the warnings, but you know if you don’t get under the hood, the problems with the car are only going to get worse — and more expensive.

Gov. Walker accepts federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage

A busy July has given way to an active August as the legislative interim continues. July’s major news was Governor Bill Walker’s decision to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage in Alaska. The state estimates about 40,000 uninsured Alaskans will receive coverage, and 4,000 new jobs will be created.
As you probably know, the governor used his power of executive order to accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion as a bill calling for expansion did not advance in the legislature this year.
I believe the governor has made the right decision for Alaska on this issue, and I can tell you the number of constituents who have contacted me in favor of Medicaid expansion far outweighed those opposed.
Also, in a poll we conducted earlier this year through the District P email list, 77 percent of the respondents were in favor of expanding the program.

Welcome back to the 2015-2016 school year

Our district is very excited to have all of our students, staff and parents back in school. We have had a busy summer at the district office in preparation for this year, and are now able to implement many blended learning opportunities across the district, while leveraging our existing technology for even greater student learning. As you know, we are fully committed to prepare all of our students for their future.
As we continue to prepare our students with many exciting opportunities, a major component involves the opportunity for our teachers to collaborate. This time allows teachers to understand an individual student’s strengths and weaknesses, and work with other teachers to personalize a student’s education. Our teachers work hard to differentiate instruction for content, student interests and student learning profiles. They will use their time wisely to meet each student’s needs.

Dear friends and advocates for local youth

On behalf of Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic and the R.E.C. Room, I’m thrilled to announce our continuation and expansion of local Alaska Promoting Health Among Teens (AK-PHAT), a comprehensive peer education program that fosters community and individual resiliency.
The PHAT program is an evidence-based, nationally accredited health education curriculum that provides teens with skills to make healthy choices and form positive, safe, and healthy relationships. Its introduction and application in Alaska was made possible through federal funding that supported four PHAT implementation sites across our state from 2011-2015.
Now, thanks to a new three-year grant provided through the State of Alaska Department of Adolescent Health, our Homer-based PHAT team will continue the peer-led program and enhance it by introducing the curriculum in new settings, including schools across the Kenai Peninsula.

Alaskans have nothing against oil; it’s the spill and spin we can’t stand

It’s not often that I read letters to the editor about my columns, but this week was just too good. The president of a oil industry support group – read cheerleader and chief for the rah rah petro club – called my column from a few weeks ago “nonsensical gibberish.”
Sorry, that just made me laugh again. If my writing is so nonsensical, then why do they have to send out a hired gun to say so. I mean, really dear reader, you’d know gibberish if you read it. Right?

Taking a step toward talking about abuse in Alaska

I had a conversation with my 7-year-old daughter the other night on one of those long drives that Alaska life is filled with. I decided it was time to talk about what is OK and what isn’t when it comes to other people and your body. It’s not a topic any parent wants to bring up, really. We’d like to think our little boys and girls will live in a bubble, and will never face any type of aggressive behavior, let alone someone trying to abuse them. But that’s not what the statistics show. So, I took a deep breath.
“So, do you know there are places other people shouldn’t touch you?”

New trade pact will give corporations power to define our laws

An obscure and controversial trade bill negotiated by the Obama Administration and pending in Congress poses a direct threat to our democracy and to Alaska’s sovereignty. Unfortunately, our two Senators – Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan – recently voted to “fast track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before anyone knows what’s in it.

What does it take?

We have waited to write this letter until we heard from the State Medical Examiner and knew the cause of Devin’s death. There have been numerous rumors floating around which is unfair, but human in nature. Devin died of “Cardiac Dysrhythmia of unclear etiology.” The toxicology report only showed signs of the presence of caffeine.

Our new reality: Doing more with less

July marks the beginning of fiscal year 2016; a chance for a new beginning and a fresh start for addressing Alaska’s economic future.
On June 29, I signed into law the budget bills passed by the legislature. For fiscal year 2016, we will spend $1 billion less than we spent last year. This is a 19 percent overall reduction with an average 13.5 percent cut to executive branch agencies, and cuts of more than 30 percent in the Department of Commerce and the Governor’s Office. Even with these reductions, we still have to draw $2.7 billion from savings to make up for state revenue losses caused by low oil prices.

Do it for the money, do it for the jobs

According to a recent study, Alaska is either in a recession or on the brink of one. It’s time for non-partisan solutions, not time to play Russian roulette with the economy. Alaska will lose 4,000 jobs across the economy by September.
Blocking a vote on a Medicaid Expansion bill that’s passed in Democratic and Republican states — that would create 4,000 Alaska jobs — isn’t smart politics. The public supports it across party lines. But Republican legislative leaders decided to block this bill from House and Senate floor votes during 140 days of legislative session and special sessions.

Like us on Facebook