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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The legislative per diem system should be fixed, in part because we can’t send mixed messages about the worst fiscal crisis in Alaska history. Our bi-partisan Alaska House Majority Coalition came together and took hard votes to fix this crippling, harmful deficit. Some more conservative legislators so far have blocked that effort.
The only way to shore our finances up, to protect jobs, the economy, schools, public safety, and basic services, is to let folks know there isn’t a ton in money out there to be spent, and February’s federal increase in the per diem rate, which the state follows, didn’t help things.
While I’ve pushed to reform the per diem system, in the meantime all I have the power to do is decline per diem checks. I do that because without a new law, that’s my only option.
When the federal per diem rate went up, the Payroll Office told me I couldn’t decline the raise. So I decline four out of every 11 checks to block that raise, leaving my per diem payments lower than 54 colleagues, including the GOP minority leader who claimed 50% more than I was comfortable with.
I can personally afford declining per diem, I lose money at this job, but my wife Kelly works. I get the opposite arguments of others who pay rent at two homes, and some who have large families.
I am confident the majority of legislators, who agree with per diem reform, will address this. In the meantime my only power is to decline per diem checks, and battle for an immediately needed, full, fair, fiscal plan to protect this state.
As always, call if you have any questions. Hope you’re enjoying your summer!