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The LegHead Report

LegHead (ledj-hed) Report
weekdays at 12:20 p.m.

Dog Eared Reads


Galley Tables

Weekdays at 12:20 p.m.
Jan 21 2016
Alaskans Want Cuts, Will Accept Taxes
Thursday, 21 January 2016
Diane Kaplan, president and CEO, Rasmuson Foundation (at table facing camera) presents the results of a public survey to the House Finance Committee Wednesday. The Rasmuson survey asked Alaskans what they think about the state’s fiscal crisis. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North.) 
Andrew Kitcherman/APRN
Alaskans are increasingly concerned about the $3.5-billion state budget shortfall. AND they’re interested in using both state spending cuts and new revenue to close the gap.

That’s according to the Rasmuson Foundation’s Plan4Alaska (Plan For Alaska) which surveyed 800 Alaskans earlier this month.

Compared with a similar survey in July, the share of residents who are extremely concerned about the shortfall rose from 31 percent to 43 percent. 

Two-thirds of residents want to close the shortfall with both spending cuts and new revenue, while 30 percent want only cuts.

Rasmuson Foundation President Diane Kaplan said a majority in every region of the state supported a statewide sales tax. That’s true even in areas that already have local sales taxes. 

And while introducing a state personal income tax is the least popular option, with only 40 percent supporting the idea, support is higher if the tax were limited to those with higher incomes.

“We then looked a little more deeply on the income tax and we asked, would you support an income tax for people who earn a hundred thousand or greater, and as you can see, a majority of Alaskans except those who earn a hundred thousand or more thought that was a great idea.”

Cutting spending is popular, with 55 percent supporting $500-million in cuts. But when asked for areas to reduce spending, fewer people could identify specific cuts.

Governor Bill Walker’s new budget plan, which includes a smaller amount of spending cuts, has the support of 55 percent of residents who’ve heard of it. But most people don’t know much about it. 
Jan 21 2016
Alaska Fisheries Report - Jan. 21, 2016
Thursday, 21 January 2016


6.41 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup


Coming up this week, the McDowell Group has updated its survey of Alaska's seafood value, we continue our series on historic Alaska canneries, and the longest stretch of fishing safety in decades. All that and more, next on the Alaska Fisheries Report. We had help from the Cannery Project's Anjuli Grantham in Kodiak, KIYU's Tim Bodony in Galena, and KUCB's Greta Mart in Unalaska. 

Jan 21 2016
Commerce Secretary Moves to Reduce Halibut Bycatch in BSAI
Thursday, 21 January 2016
Molly Dischner/KDLG
The U.S. Secretary of Commerce has signed off on a plan to reduce halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea.

The plan, which likely won’t go into effect until spring, will reduce the amount of halibut the Bering Sea fishing fleet can catch while out targeting Pollock and other groundfish. The National Marine Fisheries Service says the new limits would reduce the halibut bycatch by 361 metric tons compared to 2014.

The plan cuts the prohibited species catch limit for four different fishing sectors by 15 to 25 percent. Community development quota organizations will see a reduction of 20 percent under the plan. Pollock trawlers will take a 15 percent reduction, while non-pollock trawlers will have their limit cut by 25 percent.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted for the plan last June, and the National Marine Fisheries Service says the commerce secretary has now signed off on the plan. The new limits will go into effect after a final rule is published in the federal register. 
Jan 20 2016
Kodiak Soil and Water Conservation District Talks Future in Light of Financial Issues
Wednesday, 20 January 2016
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

With the state facing a budget deficit of at least three and a half billion dollars, many programs face cuts and even closure, and the Kodiak Soil and Water Conservation District is feeling the pressure. The organization does outreach and community projects related to water and soil in Kodiak, and project coordinator Blythe Brown explains the group is under the Department of Natural Resources.
“We have to report our activities to the state and our financial statements all go to Alaska DNR, but we’re not state employees. We’re not an actual state – full-fledged state entity with any regular funding. We get $2,500 every year from DNR to do everything that they say we have to do.”

Brown says most of their projects are grant-funded and she says those grants can only go so far towards supporting the entire organization.

“Anybody that gives away money wants to give away money to get things done for the actual project, and they don’t want to support all those indirects. Like, my fish and wildlife invasive plants funding, they don’t want to pay me to fill the staplers for working on the community garden. It’s not fair to them. They want their money to go to invasive plant work.”

And some KSWCD projects have already taken a hit. The Mercury Deposition Network gathers rainwater samples throughout the country to test for mercury content, and Brown says Kodiak is vulnerable to contamination.   
“We are actually the first station that some of the weather systems coming across from China... so the coal plants in China might be putting mercury into the air, and then it comes across in the water systems, and then our station would detect it.”

Brown says that the Kodiak station recently closed, and it's possible KSWCD itself could reach that point.

“Soil and water conservation districts across the country get their funding in a variety of ways. Some places have county taxes that support their districts or resource fees, user fees. I know right now they’re talking about getting user fees for the parks to keep the parks open here. In Alaska and in Kodiak we don’t have any user fees that can support agriculture or natural resource protection here.”

She says they’ve already cut the administrative assistant's work schedule back to a few hours per week. However, budget issues aren't stopping KSWCD from hosting new events. As a replacement for a lost program and with the help of state sponsorship, Brown says they're working on planning an Arbor Day event this year to observe the fiftieth anniversary of Arbor Day in Alaska.
Jan 19 2016
Safeway Lettering Just Down for Repair
Tuesday, 19 January 2016
safeway_sign_by_jay.jpgAbsent lettering at Safeway. Jay Barrett/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

You may have noticed that Safeway has been missing the lettering on its storefront for the last few months. Store manager Mike Murray says the absence of the signs just means they’re doing repairs. 

“Most people might recall, for a lot of years, the signage that we had on the front of the building was not functioning correctly and it was just due to age and corrosion etc., and while we tried many, many times to get the branding taken care and burning right, we finally got approval on that. The problem was that we started too late in the season on the project.”

He says back in September, they removed the signs and then pressure washed and painted the front of the building.

“And it was on getting the install where we’re having some trouble with the contractor, the weather, etc., because we need to draw a stencil across the front of the building to kind of place where the holes for the signage will go through the membrane, and so that’s where we’re at, waiting for a good break in weather in terms of wind and rain and availability with the contractor.”

Murray says he hopes the lettering will be back in February or March, weather permitting.
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