District 31 Representative Sarah Vance held public meetings last week in Ninilchik, at McNeil Canyon School, at the Anchor Point VFW and at Kachemak Bay Campus in Homer.
At Kachemak Bay Campus, Vance spoke briefly about her concern for students who need food, shelter and counseling and said that she is open to reducing the number of school districts in the state as a cost cutting measure and Representative Vance said that she supports establishing a health care authority in the state to make health care more affordable for teachers but that no such system is in place yet. She told the crowd that the closing of the Silvertip Maintenance Station on the Seward Highway is not a full closure of the station. She says the station will only lose two hours of road maintenance a night. She then turned the meeting over to the people in attendance.
Vance heard comments from the audience on topics like the latest proposal for funding cuts to the University of Alaska system. Kachemak Bay Campus stands to lose another million dollars in funding this year. Several people spoke in support of The Alaska Fair Share Oil Tax and about requiring transparency from Hilcorp with regard to their acquisition of BP. After the meeting Vance shared her thoughts on the oil tax with KBBI.
"If we were to initiate the Fair Share initiative and tax an additional one billion dollars per year, that would remove almost all of the capital that they have available for future projects. Alaska makes money when oil is flowing down, when production is up and oil is flowing down the pipeline, and it also increases our royalties to the state and to the permanent fund corporation. So. If we remove that, then it's greatly going to be a detriment to our Alaska's overall economy because oil and gas does fund our budget," said Vance.
Vance says she has invited Hilcorp to come to Homer after the legislative session and says she likes their business model.
"Hilcorp is working on that transition. The sale is not final and they're trying to hire people. The positive thing that I like about Hillcorp is that I believe 98% of their hire are Alaskans. There are specialized fields within the oil industry that there's a small number of people in the world that do certain things, and so they just get them from wherever they can, but they, what they do in their company is they encourage people to become Alaska residents and to stay here and not just come back and forth," said Vance.
During her presentation, Vance encouraged everyone to cooperate with the upcoming census online or in person and said that census numbers are important for allocating state funds. Census numbers are also used in drawing voting districts. Vance says she’d like to see the communities across the bay, now represented by Louise Stutes of Kodiak.
"That's why I would say, hey, you know, can we have them in our district of possible? Hopefully our area has grown that we wouldn't have to lose any other border, but just add them. We'll see how that conversation goes because they do feel like they are, I mean, this is their community."
That’s District 31 Representative Sarah Vance of Homer. The 31st legislative session begins in Juneau on January 21, 2020.