This week in Juneau, various subcommittees of the House Finance Committee closed out departmental operating budget proposals. With a grim fiscal picture, most of those budgets took significant cuts beyond those proposed by Governor Bill Walker. Details of those cuts are still emerging, and will receive further discussion before the full House Finance committee next week. After that, the revised budget bill will be sent to the Senate.
The budget isn’t the only thing being discussed, however. Numerous bills have been introduced regarding the state’s interaction and relationship with the federal government.
The Upper Valley’s representative, Wes Keller, chairs the education committee, which passed along a bill on Friday morning. That bill, sponsored by Keller, would require Alaskan high school students to complete a curriculum on constitutional literacy before receiving a diploma. The specifics of that course would be somewhat left to the individual school districts, but a list of suggested historical documents is included within the bill. Keller and other supporters of the education bill say that it will not necessarily require new classes, and that some districts do cover the required material. Opponents say that it places an unfunded mandate on schools, and represents the state government getting involved in local education decisions. Keller’s proposal, House Bill 30, made it out of the Education Committee, and will next be heard in House Finance, though a date has not been set.