Rep. Gary Knopp (R-Kenai/Soldotna), House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham) and Vice-Chair of the House Finance Committee Janice Johnston (R-Anchorage) listen to public testimony at a local House Finance Committee meeting at the Soldotna Sports Complex on Saturday, March 23, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Rep. Gary Knopp (R-Kenai/Soldotna), House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham) and Vice-Chair of the House Finance Committee Janice Johnston (R-Anchorage) listen to public testimony at a local House Finance Committee meeting at the Soldotna Sports Complex on Saturday, March 23, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Alaskans show up in force to oppose governor’s budget

On the peninsula, more than 230 attended Saturday’s community meeting

On Thursday, the House Finance Committee released details about the concerns Alaskans brought forth during their community meetings across the state.

A thousand Alaskans in Anchorage, Bethel, Fairbanks, Kenai, Ketchikan, Juneau, Mat-Su and Sitka provided feedback during the meetings. An additional 784 people across the state called in, emailed or spoke to the House Finance Committee meeting on Monday.

“The outpouring and the passion from Alaskans has been incredible,” Speaker Bryce Edgmon said in a press release. “We’ve heard from Alaskans who would lose access to healthcare if Governor Mike Dunleavy’s budget passes as-is. We’ve heard from teachers who don’t know if they’ll have a job this fall, elders on a fixed income who fear they’ll lose senior benefits, and people in communities at risk of losing their only highway.”

On the peninsula, more than 230 attended Saturday’s community meeting, with over 60 people speaking to Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai/Soldotna, Edgmon and House Finance Committee Vice Chair Jennifer Johnston.

Public feedback from community members on the Kenai Peninsula was overly opposed to the governor’s proposed budget cuts, with education funding dominating the conversation.

Across the state, sentiments from Alaskans were much the same, with 990 people opposing the budget and 839 people speaking against cuts to education, according to the release. The House Finance Committee received support for the governor’s proposed budget from 202 residents.

The release also says 664 Alaskans spoke in support of an income tax, 611 Alaskans spoke in support of cuts to the Permanent Fund Dividend check and 378 residents supported an increase to oil and gas taxes, revising oil and gas taxes and reducing oil and gas tax credits. Medicaid and health care cuts were opposed by 368 residents and cuts to the university system were opposed by 356 people, the release said.

“The House Majority hears you and thanks everyone who’s spoken out,” Rep. Chuck Kopp said in the press release. “As we continue to build this budget, our goal is to balance living within our means and providing for the critical needs of our most vulnerable residents.”

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