Time to share comments on proposed state spending

  • Saturday, March 5, 2016 4:11pm
  • Opinion

Ever wanted to share a piece of your mind with state legislators? Here is your opportunity.

The Senate Finance Committee will be hearing public testimony from communities around Alaska on the Fiscal Year 2017 operating budget, and has scheduled time for public testimony from Legislative Information Offices around the state from Monday through Wednesday.

The Kenai Peninsula is up on Wednesday, with testimony from Seward and Homer slated from 1-1:45 p.m., and Kenai from 4:45-5:45 p.m.

Alaskans may testify in person at their nearest Legislative Information Office — the Kenai LIO is located at 145 Main Street Loop, Suite 217 in Kenai.

Written testimony may be emailed to Senate.Finance.Committee@akleg.gov; the budget bills being discussed — SB 139, the state operating budget, and SB 140, the mental health budget — may be found online at akleg.gov. LIO staff also are able to provide information about pending legislation.

Certainly, the state budget is under quite a bit more scrutiny than in years past, when there was more than enough funding to go around. But too often, suggestions on how to manage state spending come after decisions already have been made, usually in response to cuts. The opportunity to influence those decisions is now.

The operating budget is not a light read. It’s 70 pages outlining a $6.8 billion spending plan for all state agencies. There’s certainly a lot to digest.

But the Legislature is past the halfway mark of its scheduled 90-day session, and the budget process is moving along. If you comments on how state legislators propose we spend — or not spend — our money, now is the time to share them.

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