Getting the Job Done

This session, legislators have been addressing and will need to continue to address our fiscal situation. We have a projected budget deficit above 3.5 billion dollars. Despite the fact that I voted to cut the budget by $900 million during last year’s legislative session, cuts will continue to be part of the solution to our budget crisis.

“The responsible thing to do during a fiscal crisis is to spend money wisely. Being fiscally responsible during this time of revenue decline should be a bipartisan effort. I am confident the passage of these bills will help get Alaska on a sustainable path.” ~ Dan Ortiz

Alaska House District 36

A second piece of important legislature is the need for a shorter, more efficient session length. Legislators should be expected to complete their work in a timely manner. In order to hold legislators accountable to a 90 day session, I’ve co-sponsored House Joint Resolution 27. Efficiency is beneficial for fiscal conservation.

House Joint Resolution 27 is a constitutional amendment to limit legislative sessions to 90 days with the intent to keep government officials on-time and on-budget and to stop wasting tax payers thousands of dollars. This proposal came in response to a ballot initiative passed by Alaskan voters in 2006 that limits the Alaska Legislature’s regular sessions to 90 days. Unfortunately, the Alaska Constitution still includes language setting the length of legislative sessions at 120 days. According to a legislative research report, costs associated with failure to adjourn within the 90-day statutory limit during the 2014 and 2015 legislative sessions were $70,211 and $152,831, respectively. If approved, HJR 27 would place an amendment on the November 2016 ballot to align the Alaska Constitution with the Alaska voters’ 2006 decision to limit the regular legislative session to 90 days.

I respect the will of the voters; in 2006, they asked our Legislature to get the job done in 90 days, so we need to get the job done in 90 days! We can’t afford to waste thousands of dollars because we take longer than necessary to complete our jobs. If time is necessary, this piece of legislature would not halt progress. The Governor or the Legislature could still call a special session if it were deemed that further deliberations were needed for the good of Alaska.