Highlights from the First Week of Session

The Alaska Education Update for the first week of session includes: 

From Tuesday, January 15, 2013:

A report on the house and senate floor sessions, and the house majority and minority press conferences

From Wednesday, January 16, 2013:

A detailed report of the Senate Education hearing on the new teacher evaluation regulations: Commissioner Hanley stated during the hearing that they will eventually need more funding to implement the regulations, but at this point they have grant funding to get the process started.

There is also an excerpt of Governor Parnell’s State of the State address (that which relates to education), links to the text and video of the speech, and a very brief overview of the press conferences that followed. 

From Thursday, January 17, 2013:

A report on Governor Parnell’s press conference and OMB Director Rehfeld’s presentation to the House Finance Committee. 

In his press conference, Governor Parnell said he supports appropriating funding for education that is tied to results, and that he will support the appropriation that is eventually needed to implement the new teacher evaluation regulations.  He said the Dept. of Education & Early Development is working with districts right now to figure out what they need to do to implement the regulations.  A lot of concern was expressed by school district officials in Wednesday’s Senate Education Committee hearing about how difficult and expensive it will be to implement the new regulations, so perhaps it will be reassuring that the governor appears to be committed to appropriating the necessary funds for implementation. 

From Friday, January 18, 2013:

1.   Details on all the education-related legislation introduced this week, including Governor Parnell’s proposed budgets (if you were a 2012 subscriber, you saw those details earlier, in a report from December 14, 2012) 

2.   A brief report on Friday’s House Majority Press Conference

3.   A detailed report on Friday’s House Finance Committee presentation on the governor’s proposed budgets by Legislative Finance Director David Teal. 

In his presentation, Mr. Teal said the state has some projected deficits, but that assumes they continue to spend $875 million on the capital budget.  Alaska doesn’t have to do that.  From 1975 to the present, when Alaska didn’t have money, they didn’t spend it.  Operating budget growth was also flat for 20 years.  Given the recent past, when revenue climbed they immediately increased spending, which makes people think there is no other way to budget.  He said the past proves that budgets do not need to increase by 6.5 percent per year. 

In order not to go in to deficit spending, the state will have to hold pretty close to flat spending on the operating budget, and keep capital budget legislative discretionary spending to about $263 million (excludes state agency capital appropriations).  $263 million spread over the 40 house districts across the state is only $6.575 million per house district.  Though legislators will ultimately decide where all funding is appropriated – operating and capital expenditures – it is up to everyone to let legislators know what’s important to them, and what they think are unnecessary appropriations – in both agency budgets and legislative discretionary spending.