Opinion

As a mother and grandmother and through my work with foster youth and the Alaska Children’s Trust, I have realized that few things are of higher priority to me than the safety and well-being of our youth and families.

Pomp and Circumstance has stopped playing as the graduation season has ended. Occasionally, I still hear a few measures rattling around in my brain so that only leads to the notion that I also have a few musings about graduation to mutter.

Since the usual tradition of me writing about graduation was forgone this year due to a choice to focus solely on my own son’s graduation (way to go Ian R. Armstrong, you are rocking awesome!), I guess instead of featuring the accomplishments of this year’s crop of seniors, I get to make a few comments.

As the Legislature nears the end of the constitutional 120-day session, I am gravely concerned about the possible outcome.

Our state is in a difficult fiscal position. Due mainly to world oil prices and our over-dependence on oil, we have only about one-fifth of the revenue we need to balance the budget. And that’s after several years of budget cuts and almost no capital investment.

We're not mathematicians. That's why we prefer to dabble in words and not numbers.

Fortunately, it doesn't require a declaration of the Alaska Office of Management and Budget for us to know that heating, powering and maintaining two buildings is more expensive than one.

That's why we're scratching our heads at the Legislative Council's 12-1 vote last week to purchase a new office building for Anchorage lawmakers.

On Thursday, the Alaska House voted 28-11 to approve Senate Bill 91.

The Alaska Senate should concur with the amendments made by the House to this 114-page measure. Then, Gov. Bill Walker should sign it into law.

Alaska's criminal justice system is broken and desperately needs repair. Without significant changes, the state's prison population will continue to rise.

Government's most important mandate is public safety. Over the last 20 years, government in Alaska made a decision to hold criminal offenders accountable for their crimes by creating meaningful prison sentences, thus crime rates have dropped by 42 percent. If we still had the same levels of crime as we had in 1995, an additional 15,000 Alaskans would be crime victims every single year. When we look back at that strong record of success, we need to be certain that any changes we make to the criminal justice system will improve the lives and safety of law-abiding Alaskans.

Friday's news that a musher has been banned from participation in the Iditarod due to domestic violence charges draws awareness to what is an all too common problem in Alaska.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It gives us all the opportunity to show our support to survivors of sexual violence, and become part of the broader change we know needs to happen to reduce the epidemic of sexual assault and abuse in our state.

Juneau) -- While public interest in Alaska politics may focus on budgets, tax bills and fiscal gaps, the state Legislature has passed bills that attract less attention, but still improve life for thousands of Alaskans.

One of these is my House Bill 188, “The ABLE Account Act,” which has passed the House and Senate unanimously, and is awaiting the governor’s signature to become law.

One way or another, Alaskans will be taxed. The Legislature should decide how much.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 17-3 to approve Senate Bill 210, which would significantly reduce state funding provided to Alaska’s larger cities. It’s a move intended to reduce the state’s $4 billion budget deficit, but it does nothing but push taxes from the state level to the local level.

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