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Leave it to Alaska’s 29th Legislature to screw up what should have been a slam dunk. (Perhaps it is 29 and a half? What exactly is the proper nomenclature when the 29th’s first session has gone to an extra session, then that extra session has been adjourned and a new extra session called so that the Legislature can legally pack up its bags and move to Anchorage before settling on a working budget?)

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Raymond Charles Hewson, 76, died May 13, 2015, in Anchorage.
Hannah Hurley, 82, died May 17, 2015, in Ketchikan.
1/30/2013
Valuing Alaska's dollars

Legislators should use the amount of cash they need of what they are allotted to cover office expenses and return the unused portion to state coffers.

Sen. Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage, has introduced SB34, which would require that all office expenses be accounted for and that unspent funds be returned to the state's treasury.

Representatives receive $16,000 for their office accounts, according to an Associated Press story published this week. Senators get $20,000.

Lawmakers had been submitting expenses for reimbursement. For any funds left over in the account at the end of the fiscal year, they would receive a check minus taxes and deductions.

Gardner says legislators' expenses vary, some are more or less than others. She proposes each legislator spend what is necessary and return the unused portion to the state.

If SB34 becomes law, it would take effect next year.

Gardner's legislation is just what the public seeks, not only in Juneau, but in Washington, D.C. It shows respect for the value of Alaskans' dollars. It also eliminates the perception, regardless of how accurate or the reasons for it, that politicians are taking advantage of a situation.

It is in their best interest and the interest of Alaska to eliminate the situation that creates that perception.