Message from Representative Les Gara

From: Subject: Alert: Tomorrow, Budget PUBLIC TESTIMONY, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Date: Fri, 22 May 2015 01:32:54 +0000

Dear Alaska Neighbors:


Without commenting on the weirdness of this all, I have been notified that public testimony will be allowed on the latest version of the Operating Budget, which was just released about an hour ago.


The bottom line is that this operating budget (when added to what the Governor did not veto a few days ago) is the exact same budget as the one that passed the legislature in April, before special session.


You can testify: From your local Legislative Information Office, or if you do not have a local office, by phone if you call in to 844-586-9085.  Testimony is scheduled from 11 am to 2 p.m., and it is my belief that if more people call in than can fit in these hours, the Finance Chairmen will extend testimony – but that is just what I anticipate.


Main Budget Issues


Rumored Proposal that Some GOP Legislators Might Want To Spend $5 billion in Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Money To Avoid Bipartisan Budget


While I would have liked more time to give you notice, I just received it myself at 3:45 p.m.


Here are some major issues that you might be interested in, and you may have your own.  The budget that passed the House passed with only GOP-led caucus votes, and we are hoping to build a bi-partisan budget.  Your testimony is important.  The current budget is $3.2 million more than Alaska has in state general funds to pay.


I Oppose Draining $5 billion from the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve to Fund This Budget.


This budget spends $3.2 billion more than we have in state general fund revenue.  It is one that is largely written by Republican leaders, and does not include important spending cuts and budget items (adequate school funding for example).  There has been a strong rumor that a few GOP leaders, to avoid seeking a bipartisan budget, would rather drain $5 billion from the state’s Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve and deposit that money into the Permanent Fund, than work on a bipartisan budget which would get the votes from Democratic and Independent legislators to fund the budget with savings in our Constitutional Budget Reserve account.


According to the Department of Revenue, this move, if the rumor is true, could jeopardize future dividends in a year, and dividends after that.  That is because the Earnings Reserve is what is used to pay dividends and inflation-proof the Permanent Fund.  If Permanent Fund earnings are poor for a few years, perhaps because we face a stock market downturn, then according to a Department representative on May 19, “There is a real chance that if the balance of the [Earnings Reserve] is reduced below the amount needed for dividends that dividends will be reduced in that year.”


Some Budget Savings/Cuts That You Might Be Interested In


Oil Company Tax Credits: $700 million is in the budget to pay oil companies for tax credits.  Companies know these tax breaks are subject to legislative appropriation and in tight fiscal times we may not have the money to pay them immediately.  A good case can be made to ask oil companies, and not just children and seniors, to chip in to help with our budget crisis.  Some have proposed capping credit payments, until Alaska gets its fiscal house in order, at perhaps $500 million a year.  The first $500 million worth of credit payments would be paid in the order they are submitted, and, perhaps 10 months into the fiscal year, remaining credit applications would have to be honored a few months later when the next fiscal year starts.


Susitna Dam:  There is roughly $6 million in money appropriated in prior years that is not obligated for this coming fiscal year, and that can be transferred back into the state’s General Fund.


Controversial Anchorage Bragaw Road Extension: $17.3 million of this previous appropriation has not been spent and construction on this controversial road has not been started. That can be transferred back into the state’s General Fund.


Move From New Anchorage Legislative Office Building:  The Legislature paid $685,000 for office space and related expenses until some in the Legislature decided to rent a rebuilt building.  The new one costs roughly $4.2 million/year.  We have been offered space on 7th Avenue in the Atwood Building, where the Governor works, for roughly $550,000/year.  There would be a one-time cost to arrange office space there (roughly $3.4 million).  But in the long term this would save Alaskans money.


Medicaid Expansion and Reform Savings: Through the budget we can expand Medicaid, accept $145 million in federal funds, and save $6.1 million in state spending because under Medicaid Expansion the federal government pays for some medical costs the state now foots the bill for.  The savings jump to roughly $40 million over the first 6 years.


Separately, with a stand-alone bill outside of the budget, like the bill proposed by the Governor, then the state in total would, under a recent study commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Services, save $330 million in state spending over the first six years.


That would total well over $200 million a year in savings until the state has its fiscal house in order.


Some Other Important Budget Items: Schools, Children, Seniors


Education: For a child, academic opportunity matters.  The current budget cuts $32 million in funds promised under legislation passed last year, and an additional $16 million cut beyond that added by the GOP-led majority.  To keep last year’s promised funding for this coming school year (a three year school funding plan was passed last year), that $48 million would have to be restored.  Under the current budget, through attrition, retirement or layoffs, schools in many districts will lose teachers, support staff, and possibly the ability to provide curriculum.


Child Protection:  Currently 40% of Alaska’s foster youth end up homeless at some point in their lives, or end up couch surfing because they don’t have a place to live.  Twenty-seven percent end up incarcerated.  And the Director or our Office of Children’s Services has testified that “kids will in fact die as a result of unmet needs and our inability to get to them quickly enough” under this budget because this division is chronically overstressed and understaffed.  The state has not implemented a 2012 study showing how badly understaffed the Office of Children’s Services is, and in the past five years things have only gotten worse as the number of foster youth has risen from roughly 1,700 to 2,500.


A partial fix would not add to last year’s budget.  The Department has recently qualified to use $2.9 million in federal TANF funds to fund our child Advocacy Centers, for victims of child abuse.  That frees up the $2.9 million in state funds we used to appropriate for these centers.  Those TANF surplus funds were not being used in the past, and this has freed up funds we can transfer to the Office of Children’s Services to hire needed child abuse investigators, caseworkers for youth and foster families and foster parent licensing staff.


University:  The University of Alaska is Alaska’s largest provider of vocational education, and, of course, it is our public university.  It has great promise to educate Alaskans, train them for jobs, and help diversify our economy.  The current cut is roughly $30 million from last year and will eliminate many programs.


State Funded Pre-K:  The budget completely eliminates the state’s $2 million classroom pre-k program, and state funded non-classroom “Parents as Teachers” pre-k.  It cuts the Best Beginnings pre-k book program from roughly $900,000 to roughly $350,000.


Senior Benefits for Low Income Seniors:  The budget proposes to cut the Senior Benefits payment that took the place of Alaska’s old Longevity Bonus program.  For single seniors who struggle to pay for medicine and basic living expenses, who, as have income between $11,040 and the top limit of $25,000, monthly benefits will be cut by 20%.


Alaska Marine Highway Cuts


Many of you rely on the Marine Highway for business and transportation in our coastal communities.  Cuts to that system have been described by coastal residents as very damaging, and have concerned many Alaskans who have contacted our office.




These are some of the items in the budget that might be of concern to you.  There are very likely others.  But I wanted to get an e-mail out to you as quickly as possible.


Thank you.  I hope we can all work towards a bi-partisan budget with a mix of these budget reductions and items.


My Best,




Message from the DOT Commissioner

For those of you that may have missed this we are posting this latest piece of information from the DOT Commissioner:
“From: “Commissioner, DOT (DOT sponsored)” <>
Date: May 21, 2015 at 15:18:59 AKDT
To: DOT All Staff <>
Subject: Partial Government Shutdown Preparedness

I want to follow up on the email the Governor sent out on Monday, advising all state employees that if the budget situation is not resolved there will be a partial government shutdown.
I met with the entire DOT&PF Executive team, our Deputies Commissioners, and our Regional and Division Directors on Tuesday to ensure we are tackling this unprecedented challenge proactively and in unison.  We also wanted to ensure we are speaking to you all with one voice.

I realize that even the tiniest potential for loss of income is stressful to contemplate.  I want to first assure you that the leadership team and I believe the potential for a shutdown is very slim, however it is our responsibility to ensure that DOT&PF is providing the Administration leadership with timely responses to information requests and details about our scenario planning.  We also must be well prepared for whatever the outcome may be.

As such I want to let you know what we are doing.   At this early stage in the process our Division of Administrative Services is looking at what funding amounts and what fund sources will be available to operate on July 1st.  Because DOT&PF is funded from various fund sources – we anticipate that we will likely be able to keep more folks working than a strict interpretation of “life, health, and safety of Alaskans.” Should a potential shutdown become necessary – we will work to have this impact the fewest number of employees as possible as we align under Governor Walker’s direction.

The Division of Personnel has put together a list of frequently asked questions that provides helpful information on the mechanics of a government shutdown ( They anticipate updating this frequently.

If the department has to continue down this path I will keep you all well informed.  We are One DOT&PF and that is how we will face this new challenge.”


Please note that this pertains to DOT and other departments may have varying, slightly differently reactions.

Again, I wish to assure you all that your union is doing everything that we can to mitigate the possibility of layoffs.

In solidarity,

Gene Christian, CEA

FAQ Re: State Layoffs and answers as best we know right now.

We are beginning (of course!) to receive questions regarding the operations and impact of layoffs, as described in the Governor’s statement yesterday. For the benefit of all CEA, we will respond to the questions through our all CEA email and APEA website postings.


  1. I am not sure I understand what the term “layoff” means as far as the State of Alaska is concerned. I consulted the union contract but that didn’t resolve my confusion. For CEA, “layoff” means “to reduce the number of employees in the bargaining unit due to lack of funds, work, or other conditions beyond the control of the employees(.)” As a matter of general labor law, the decision to layoff is an absolute management right, however, once that decision is made, the union has the right to negotiate any impacts of that decision with the employer. To some degree, CEA has pre-negotiated impact through Article 21-Layoff, which defines the reasons layoff may occur, establishes notification and procedural requirements, defines possible alternatives (transfer, demotion, displacement of a less senior co-worker) to “on the street” layoff, and articulates rehire rights for those who have been laid-off.


  1. I retired from the Federal government prior to coming to work for the state. With the feds, a “layoff” was synonymous with a “furlough”. If there was a lapse in appropriation, we were furloughed, i.e., put on unpaid leave. Once Congress got its act together, we were ordered back to work. My experience was that we always got paid for the time on furlough (however, it was not a guarantee – we could just as easily been denied that reimbursement). With the state, a layoff appears to be more than the furlough I experienced with the feds. My understanding is that when the state lays you off, your return to service is based on seniority. Again drawing from my federal service, this looks a lot like a reduction in force, or perhaps a combination of a furlough and a RIF. The immediate situation (announced by the Governor on Monday, 18 May) is more comparable to the federal situation described, when Congress fails to complete a new budget or a “continuing resolution.” However, since Alaska has no history or tradition with a no-budget situation, we cannot be certain exactly what the process and procedure will be. Semantically, “lay-off” contemplates a permanent loss or long-term interruption of employment, whereas “furlough” contemplates a short-term interruption, both transactions are lay-offs within the definition of common labor law and the CEA contract. In the current CEA contract, we did negotiate a new provision, Art21/Sec21.01D, which authorizes the state to propose furloughs, and, if proposed, will trigger negotiation regarding the terms of any proposed furlough.


  1. Laid off and furlough are very different. I am not sure I understand which one or if both will happen. They are (see above): lay-off contemplates a long-term or permanent loss of employment (Art21/Sec21.01A); furlough contemplates are short-term interruption and scheduled, or anticipated, return to work (Art21/Sec21.01D). SOA is probably looking at the potential of both situations. If there is no budget, or an unbalanced budget on 1 July 15, furloughs (Sec21.01D) will likely ensue, as was outlined in the Governor’s announcement; as Alaska works its way through the current income dilemma, it is likely that there will be significant reductions in state services which will result in lay-offs (Sec21.01A), and permanent cessation of selected state services and activities.


  1. It would be helpful if as a part of the discussion, everyone could work July 1st for the minimum amount of time that is needed for health insurance. It would, indeed! As previously noted, the decision to lay-off (including furlough) is a management decision, but then management must negotiate the impact of that decision with CEA. One of our proposals will certainly be a date (or other provision) that allows for extended medical insurance coverage. CEA already has some enhanced considerations regarding health benefits for laid-off members (Art21/Sec21.04), including an additional month of coverage as if one is employed.


  1. I’m surprised the Union has not previously discussed furlough as an option rather than lay-off. I’d much rather work a 4 day workweek than be laid off entirely. Perhaps this is something to think of proposing if the layoffs move forward. CEA has contemplated furloughs, job sharing, reduced work weeks and various other ideas as possible alternatives to lay-off…but we do not want to put the “cart before the horse.” As noted, once management makes the decision to lay-off, then notice must issue and CEA has the opportunity to negotiate the impacts of the decision to lay-off. It is at that time that CEA will address every possible alternative we can imagine…and the CEA membership suggests!


  1. Has a list of essential services been published by the Governor’s Office? Not yet, although the Governor did refer to public safety and Pioneer Homes in his press coverage yesterday. Division of Personnel & Labor Relations was working on the list of essential services and positions yesterday; CEA requested that they provide CEA a copy of the list when completed.


  1. One question I got was IF we are laid off will it be like the feds and we will get back pay once this is settled for the furloughed time or as one guy said Do I need to look for another job July 1 to pay my mortgage. As noted in Qs 2 and 3, we are not sure right now. A work interruption on 1 July 16, based on an unfunded budget is more likely to result in a fed-type furlough situation, although Alaska has no tradition regarding pay reimbursement. CEA will fight for pay reimbursement, but it will be (we expect) a difficult struggle. As Alaska eventually begins to seriously define and manage the state’s income situation (if it does; been there, done that, right?), CEA should anticipate a dramatic redesign and reduction of the structure and staffing of state government. There will be impact negotiations, but the elected officials and administration will be deciding what services continue and which services are terminated.


  1. Are we able to use our leave on the time of layoff? To offset the 2 weeks unpaid that we will have. That will be determined through impact negotiations. The conventional rule is that layoff cannot be subsidized by taking paid leave; typically (see Q9, below), if laid-off, all accrued leave is cashed-out, although that will probably not be the case in a pre-determined temporary furlough.


  1. Is it true that if state workers are laid off that all your leave is cashed out at time of lay off? Yes, if it is a lay-off situation as contemplated in Article 21. If the state contemplates temporary, defined furloughs, it is expected that it would not be required that accrued leave be cashed-out, however, the negotiations that define terms and conditions of the furlough will likely address that matter.

Budget Questions

Fellow CEA members,


By now everyone has probably seen the email that the Governor sent out earlier today related to the possible State shutdown in July.  It was a dramatic event, but not totally unexpected given what the Governor was presented.


This is truly an unprecedented event for the State, and to say the least the Governor’s email has generated a lot of interest with way more questions than anyone has answers for right at the moment.  The CEA and APEA are in regular contact with the other affected state unions, the Governor’s office, and some legislative offices trying to get answers and compare notes as we speak.  To say that everything is in a state of flux at the moment would probably be an understatement.  However, we are actively trying to identify and get our arms around impacts to our members, get answers to questions, and try to figure out how this process will unfold if the Legislature is not able to pass a budget prior to the fiscal year end.


We have additional meetings scheduled for later today, plus daily updates over the next several days, as this process unfolds. As information becomes available we will try and compile a good list of FAQ questions and answers for distribution and posting on our respective websites.


Folks, this should not be happening, (shades of DC gridlock comes to mind) and it is serious.  Everyone needs to just step back and consider the actual consequences of what happens if the State shuts down mid-summer.  No state campgrounds for visitors, no commercial fisheries because there is nobody to monitor and manage them, no DMV because everyone is laid off, no lease payments because there is no money to pay the bills, no road maintenance, banks and credit unions will be affected as they will be unable to record mortgage deeds and UCC filings, and many other services that are just taken for granted. Our work matters and we need to remind folks of that periodically.  Please continue to call and contact your respective legislators and ask them to please get a budget in place so work can continue and the State continues to function as it should.


I appreciate everything each and every one of you does daily in your respective jobs, and as this dilemma unfolds we will try to get information out as quickly as we can


Gene Christian

President, Local 6133, Confidential Employees Association

Governor Walker Line-Item Vetoes Unfunded Budget Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                 No. 15-60
Contact:  Grace Jang, Press Secretary – (907) 269-3031 Katie Marquette, Deputy Press Secretary – (907) 269-7447
Governor Walker Line-Item Vetoes Unfunded Budget Bill
May 18, 2015 ANCHORAGE—Governor Bill Walker today vetoed much of House Bill 72, the unfunded budget bill the legislature transmitted May 1.
“I am gravely concerned about the effects this legislative impasse is having on the state,” Governor Walker said. “Tomorrow is the deadline by which I must take action. Today, to honor the terms of our contracts to give 10 to 30 days of notice, I let state employees know that layoff notices may be coming. Public services, employees and our economy are all in limbo because of this unfunded budget.”
By transmitting an unfunded operating budget bill, legislative leadership left Governor Walker with three choices: allow the unfunded budget to become law; line-item veto all fiscal year 2016 budget items; or line-item veto the unfunded portions of the budget so available funds could be spent on critical health, life, safety and debt service obligations.
“I chose the least detrimental of the three options,” Governor Walker said. “I have approved the fiscal year 2015 supplemental budget items, and vetoed much of the fiscal year 2016 budget items. The funded portions will be allocated for critical health, life and safety functions—like trooper duties and keeping prisons and health care facilities open.”
The legislature is gridlocked over $90 million dollars added to the budget as a compromise to soften the blow to Alaska’s economy; $90 million is 3 percent of the $3 billion deficit. In the long term, spending $90 million more now will shorten the life of our reserves by just seven days.
“It is time to stop debating the merits of the $90 million differences in cuts, so we can begin the discussion on how to solve the $3 billion deficit,” Governor Walker said. “We need to shift our focus from arguing over 3 percent to working toward solving 97 percent of the problem. I urge legislators to come back to the negotiating table and reach a compromise for the good of Alaska.”

Alaska Gov’t Shutdown?

Dear CEA members,


In yesterday’s press conference the Governor said the SOA Departments are preparing for a Government shutdown should the Legislature not pass a funded budget before the end of the fiscal year.


Here is the Alaska Dispatch story on the press conference:


Or you can watch the archived footage of the 5/12/15 press conference itself here:

The Governor starts about 15 seconds after the 9 minute mark.


Your union is closely monitoring the progress of the Legislative Special Session as well as the actions of the Executive Branch.  We will keep you posted as things develop.


For more information and what you can do, go to the APEA website,

APEA Legislative Report: Medicaid, the Governor and Games

Good Afternoon!


Today, both bodies of the legislature held “technical sessions” with a skeleton crew but no real business was conducted. The House Finance Committee continued to delve into Medicaid expansion with highly critical questions and comments but no progress. The Governor showed his displeasure by scheduling a press conference attempting to hold the legislature responsible for the slow pace and lack of action. The threat of not having a budget by July 1st is becoming more real as the days slip past.

Good Afternoon!


Today, both bodies of the legislature held “technical sessions” with a skeleton crew but no real business was conducted. The House Finance Committee continued to delve into Medicaid expansion with highly critical questions and comments but no progress. The Governor showed his displeasure by scheduling a press conference attempting to hold the legislature responsible for the slow pace and lack of action. The threat of not having a budget by July 1st is becoming more real as the days slip past.


The Governor’s “Take Two” budget contains funding and approval for the union contracts. The legislature did not approve them in HB 72, a major sticking point between the House and Senate leadership and the Independent Democratic House Caucus.


In these turbulent times, it is impossible to predict an outcome or determine who will blink first. Not approving the contracts will wreak havoc on future negotiations. Not approving the contracts has not saved any positions. Please let your views be known: honor the contracts!


Thank Governor Walker and Reps Tuck, Claman, Drummond, Gara, Gruenberg, Guttenberg, Josephson, Kawasaki, Kito, Kreiss-Tomkins, Ortiz, Tarr, and Wool for their staunch support of collective bargaining rights and honoring the contracts. On the Senate side, Senators Bishop, Egan, Ellis, Gardner, Olson, and Wielechowski voted to support the contracts.  


See the attached for the legislative contact list and a report summarizing Medicaid expansion and the Governor’s remarks today. Thank you for your interest and concern!

May 12 2015 Legislative Report 29 Leg Session

legislative contact list 2015


Legislative/Contract Update


As you probably know, the legislature adopted a partially-funded budget and adjourned on Monday, 27 April.  That budget specifically and definitively rejected the “monetary terms” of our SU and CEA contracts for the year beginning 1 July 2015 – rejected the 2.5% raises, and rejected all monetary terms in the third year, which may make for some interesting discussion.  The budget, however, was not funded for the complete 2016 fiscal year.

The Governor almost immediately called the Legislature into Special Session.  The Special Session had 3 agenda items – (1) a fully-funded budget, (2) Medicaid expansion and (3) Erin’s Law.  On Tuesday, 28 April 2015, the legislature sort of grumbled around, convened, adjourned and grumbled some more.  Late in the day, the Governor introduced HB/SB 1001, a revised administration budget, which did accept numerous cuts and reductions adopted in the House and Senate budgets, but which also added additional monies for public education, AMHS and our contracts and their raises.

So far, not much action has taken place on the governor’s revised budget.  Senate Finance met on Wednesday, 29 April 2015, and presented a contrived discussion wherein they worried over, but justified, their reductions/their budget, and generally insisted that their budget is the only reasonable vehicle to respond to the state’s financial dilemma.  Committee meetings, of course, are fora where the dominant committee members are able to maintain complete and total control of the discussion and all information emanating from the meeting, so the meeting was, primarily, an opportunity, for the committee majority to praise themselves and exercise their bully pulpit to insist that the state’s response to the financial situation must be their – the committee majority’s – response. House Finance met this afternoon and had much the same discussion. At this hearing, Commissioner Fisher confirmed the administration’s commitment to honoring union contracts.

Later on Wednesday, Governor Walker held a news conference where he did an excellent job of discussing and explaining the situation, outlining and advocating his revised budget (HB/SB 1001) and defending the add-backs reflected in his budget. The legislature is now in recess for two weeks.


Please continue to let the Governor know you support his efforts, and please continue to let the legislature know you support the Governor and his revised budget, HB/SB 1001.  Links, connections and suggestions are available on APEA’s website,

2015 CEA Executive Board

Please join me in congratulating Mindy Jones on her recent election to the CEA Executive Board! Please also congratulate Joe Reeves and Lura Noss on their reelections to the CEA Executive Board! All three will occupy our three At-Large Seats. Posted below is an updated roster of officers and committee members as well as their contact information.



(Updated April, 2015)




Gene Christian Ketchikan, AK 


(907) 228-7273: Work

(907) 617-7877: Cell   


Terri Moore Juneau, AK


(907) 465-2072: Work 
Dezarae Deraimer Juneau, AK

E-mail: dezhere@emailcom

(907) 465-4404: Work 
Sarah Blei Anchorage, AK 


(907) 269-7828: Work  
Lura Noss Anchorage, AK


(907) 269-0576: Work   
Joseph Reeves Juneau, AK 


(907) 465-6019: Work 
Mindy Jones Juneau, AK 


(907) 465-3149: Work

(907) 209-8152: Cell  



*The President and designated seats are elected in even years, the Vice-President and At-Large seats are elected in odd years.  The offices of Secretary and Treasurer are selected by the Board from its membership.








     Primary Member

            Dan McCrummen                                            Work:  907-465-3845

     Alternate Member

            Chad Bolduc                                                   Work:  907-334-0842




    Primary Member

            Gene Christian                                                Work:  907-228-7273

    Alternate Member

            Lura Noss                                                       Work:  907- 269-0576




    Primary Member

            Kelli Manchester                                            Work:  907-465-5598

    Alternate Member

            Gene Christian                                               Work:  907-228-7273




Lura Noss                                                      Work:  907-269-0576

Dezarae Deraimer                                          Work:  907-465-4404


CEA membership application and legal trust information

Greetings fellow members,

We have been asked by several members to add some new links to the website. We have now added a link to the CEA membership form as well as a link to the Legal Trust. When you click the link to the legal trust it will take you directly to the APEA/AFT website. Simply click on Member Resources and then Legal Trust.

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact any of your Executive Board members.


In Solidarity,

Gene Christian

President, CEA local 6133