Capitol Report - March 4, 2022

March 4, 2022

The House begins public testimony on the operating budget and the University has a strong showing in Juneau

Today marks the 45th day of Legislative Session. Notably, in 2006, Alaska voters narrowly approved a ballot measure setting a 90-day limit for legislative sessions. However, the Alaska Constitution still specifies that the session may last up to 121 days. Lawmakers haven’t adjourned in 90 days since 2013. The length of the legislative session is a hot topic as the House Finance Committee begins public testimony on the operating budget. Many wonder if the Legislature will pass a budget and finish its work in 121 days.

This week the university system has had an increased presence in Juneau. The University of Alaska Foundation held its quarterly Board of Directors meeting. The Foundation also hosted a legislative reception at University of Alaska Southeast’s Technical Education Center. Separately, UA President Pitney presented the State of the University address to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce and the general public.

University of Alaska Foundation’s Legislative Reception

The University of Alaska Foundation Board of Directors, in association with UA President Pitney and UAS Chancellor Karen Carey, invited policymakers to visit the UAS Technical Education Center for an evening showcasing the university’s career education programs. Several lawmakers and legislative staff attended the event where they had the opportunity to tour the facilities and check out state-of-the-art simulators. By all accounts, the evening was a great success and legislators shared their support for UA’s efforts to expand the state’s workforce.

State of the University Address

President Pitney presented the annual State of the University address at the March 3 Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon. The event was televised on Gavel Alaska as well as live streamed to the University of Alaska website. President Pitney highlighted areas of success across the system, including student and faculty accomplishments. She also discussed the university system's critical role in enhancing and expanding the state’s workforce. Pitney touted the university system’s research in critical earth minerals, heavy oil extraction and unmanned aircraft systems. She concluded by emphasizing the importance of higher education, noting the universities’ roles in boosting economic development in the state.

Budget Actions

The House Finance Committee began the week with budget close-outs. The entire House Finance Committee came together to hear the actions taken in budget subcommittees. The University Subcommittee added just over $8.45 million to the governor’s proposed FY22 budget. The increase includes an additional $4 million for fixed costs increases to match the amount requested by the Board of Regents. Notably, even with this $4 million and the initial $4 million in the governor’s proposed budget, UA is still $3.1 million short of the total fixed cost increases, and the university system will need to continue to identify additional efficiencies across the system to fund the operating cost increases. Also included in the subcommittee’s budget increases is $3.75 million for expanded health care education programs and technology at UAA, $635.9 thousand for the Alaska Library Network to preserve funding for the Statewide Electronic Doorway (SLED) databases and to support the Alaska Library Catalog and the Imagination Library, and a $72.3 thousand increase in funding for the Technical and Vocational Education Program.

After subcommittee budget closeouts, the House Finance Committee opened up public testimony on the budget. Testimony was heard Thursday and will continue Friday and Saturday.

Friday, March 4

Public Testimony – 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.     
Callers: Fairbanks, Kenai, Mat-Su, Anchorage, Bethel, Cordova, Kotzebue, Nome, Utqiagvik     

Saturday, March 5

11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.       
Callers: Off Net Testifiers             

To publicly testify, you can go to your respective legislative information office or call in:

  • From Juneau – (907) 586-9085
  • From Anchorage – (907) 563-9085
  • From the rest of the state – 1 (844) 586-9085

Next Week’s Calendar

Monday, March 7

  • 1:30 p.m. - House Finance: House BIll 220: “Retirement Systems; Defined Benefit Options”

Tuesday, March 8

Wednesday, March 9

Thursday, March 10

Friday, March 11

  • 9:00 a.m. - Senate Education: Senate Bill 146: “University: Textbooks/Materials Cost" & House Bill 132: “School Apprenticeship Programs; Tax Credits”

  • 1:00 p.m. - House Resources: House Bill 299: “Microreactors"

For more information, contact Director of State Relations for the University of Alaska System Chad Hutchison, cell 907-378-3946, email