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News
Jan 26 2015
Sen. Stevens Supportive of Gov. Walker's Budget Approach PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 26 January 2015
1.56 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

 
Jay Barrett/KMXT
     Last week Governor Bill Walker took to the airwaves not once, but twice to impress upon Alaskans the dire situation the state's finances are in. On Wednesday, his State of the State address was akin to a pep talk before the big game, while on Thursday, his State of the Budget address was a wake-up call that declining oil revenue will require belt-tightening across the board.
     We checked in with Kodiak Senator Gary Stevens on his reaction to the two speeches.
     "I think he's really done a remarkable job to really look at the situation we're in, to honestly face it and figure out how we're going to get through this."
     Walker called for spending cuts in all state departments, and said he was cutting the governor's office budget by 11 percent this year. The cuts for education would be less, but is still something Stevens wants to keep an eye on.
     "I'm really concerned about education of course. The governor has made some reductions to education. I'm hoping we can find a way to make sure that doesn't damage the education opportunities our kids have. So we'll see how that works out."
     The governor, as he did during his campaign, vowed to expand Medicaid coverage, which he said would not only bring health care to thousand more Alaskans, but also create jobs. Conservatives in the Alaska Legislature, just like those nationwide, are largely against an expansion because it is a part of the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare. Stevens says it's worth a look.
     "Any time we can cover 40,000 Alaskans at not much additional cost, I think we should be doing that. The question is, is there going to be a cost to it, are we going to have to hire folks, will there be administrative duties. I'm sure there will.  We'll be looking at that very very carefully, but I think all in all it sounds like a good idea to me to make sure people who are not covered by insurance have some Medicaid coverage."
     After the State of the Budget address on Thursday night, Walker released his endorsed budget, and in it, one local item stood out  the Alaska Aerospace Corporation funding was eliminated completely. Stevens says he was not surprised.
     "There's going to be a meeting the next few days to find out specifically what they planning on doing. So we'll see how that works out. But, you're right. They were reduced from the budget, but they were on a schedule to go from I think 6-Million to 4-million to 2-million to zero. So, it's just a little earlier than the board had anticipated, I believe."
     Though much smaller than the State Operating Budget, the Capital Budget  which funds projects in communities, such as building libraries or repairing infrastructure  will get reduced as well, but Stevens says the effects won't be felt right away.
     "We've got a lot of projects that are in operation, in development now. A lot of money out there. Kodiak has the Pier 3 project, so money will still be spent locally and hiring folks and jobs and that sort of thing. So it's certainly not the end of the world, but we just have to be very very careful how much of our savings we spend right now."
     Tomorrow we'll have Stevens' reaction to the call by colleagues in the State House for the Kodiak Launch Complex to be sold. 
 
Jan 26 2015
Gulf Coastal Alaska has Highest Percentage of Elders PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 26 January 2015
Shady Grove Oliver/KBBI
     Alaska is getting older. Its population of seniors passed the 70,000 mark last year. That’s according to the Alaska Department of Labor, which released statistics for the aging population on Friday.
     The number of Alaskans age 65 and older increased by more than 3,000 since 2013. That group now comprises 10 percent of the state’s population. The state’s median age is 34.
     Seniors comprise 13 percent of the population in the Gulf Coast region, which is the highest in the state. That includes the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak, and the Valdez-Cordova census area.
     They make up only six percent of the northern region, which includes Nome, the North Slope, and the Northwest Arctic. That’s the lowest in the state.
     Southeast Alaska has the overall highest median age at 39.5 years. Within that, the Haines Borough leads with a median age of 48.
     The Northern Region has the overall lowest median age at 29.8 years. But the youngest people reside in the Wade Hampton census area in Southwest Alaska. The median age there is just 23.1 years. 
 
Jan 23 2015
Student-on-Student Threats Force Middle School Lockdown PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 23 January 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
    This morning (Friday) Kodiak Middle School was put on lock down for almost a half an hour after one student made threats against another. According to School District spokeswoman Destiny Fitzgerald, administrators refused to reveal the nature of the threats made, whether they were verbal or involved some manner of weapon.
    According to a press release from the school district central office, middle school Principal Jethro Jones made the decision to take the precautionary lock-down action at 9:20 a.m., and lifted it at 9:45. Reportedly, no students were harmed and the police were notified. No other schools were affected. 
 
Jan 23 2015
Vehicle Torched at White Sands PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 23 January 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
    Last night (Thursday) at about 9:30, the Alaska State Troopers received a report of a vehicle on fire near White Sands Beach. When they arrived they found the vehicle was a total loss.
    Though it was completely burned, the Troopers in an online report say that the vehicle's VIN number was intact and its registration information has been identified. 
    The investigation is ongoing, and though Troopers did not reveal what make or model the vehicle they are seeking help from anyone who may have more information about it. 
 
Jan 23 2015
Gov. Walker Touts Fisheries in Pep Talk PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 23 January 2015
0.95 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

 
walker-state-of-state-2015.jpg
 
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker speaks in front of a joint session of the Alaska Legislature during the annual State of the State Address, Jan. 21, 2015. Senate President Kevin Meyer and House Speaker Mike Chenault are seated behind him. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska) 
 
Jay Barrett/KMXT
    Wednesday night's State of the State address by Governor Bill Walker was as much a pep talk as any thing else to a state facing huge budget deficits. In it, he touted Alaskan's can-do spirit and the many assets we have to work with. One of those is our fisheries.
    "And Alaska’s resources aren’t just under our feet—they are also under our boats. Fisheries remain the state’s top employer and we will work with this crucial sector to strengthen sustainable fisheries.
In Alaska, every boat is a small family business."
    Walker acknowledged the processing industry's role in keeping our fisheries going, but reminded them that the fish belong to Alaskans first.
    "We will work together with the industry to keep boots on the deck and bolster demand across the globe for our high quality products.")We thank all of these industries for the countless jobs they provide and for all of the solid investments they continue to make in Alaska’s communities.
My goal is to continue to work with them to further develop these resources.
We will do it on Alaska’s time frame and follow the constitutional mandate to develop them for the maximum use and benefit to Alaskans."
    During his speech, Walker said the state itself needed to "Buy Alaskan," including when it comes to the science and training necessary to maintain our fisheries.
    "The Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute here in Juneau serves as a leading authority on fisheries management.
The Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center serves the State of Alaska through research, education and training activities. These are fundamental to marine science, the competitiveness of the Alaska seafood industry and in meeting important workforce needs."
    A strong proponent of local hire, Walker said he intends his policies to promote putting Alaskans to work first. 
 
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