Public comment on the state’s 2021 operating budget is being sought this week.
The state House Finance Committee has scheduled a hearing for HB205 — the budget bill — at 6:45 p.m. Thursday at the Legislative Information Office in the White Cliff building where Ketchikan Gateway Borough offices are located, suite 310.
Comments will be limited to two minutes each. But with efficient composing, much can be said within that time limit.
This is when Ketchikan and other parts of the region can broach subjects near and dear: the Alaska Marine Highway System, the University of Alaska, public education, highways and other infrastructure and state responsibilities — all of which cost in state dollars.
That’s why revenue ideas will be welcome, as well. Legislators will be interested in whether to create new taxes and on whom; and if, and how, the Alaska Permanent Fund might be managed in these days of operating deficit.
It’s likely the comments will address a permanent fund dividend and whether it is full or only in part as in the past few years.
The comments should be, to say the least, interesting, given the process and outcome for the 2020 budget. Ketchikan — through the cuts to such government-operated services as AMHS — felt the brunt of the deep cuts. It’s still feeling them.
And, with that in mind, Ketchikan is about to have its say for moving not only the community, but the region and the state into the next year.
Once again, it’s time to speak up — succinctly.