FINANCIAL SECURITY FOR TEACHERS AND PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
We should be committed to the well-being and financial security of our public employees, including teachers; which is why I support the reinstatement of a defined benefit pension plan in the form of SB88 or a similar bill. This common-sense measure would not only offer a more secure future for our public workers but also address high turnover rates, leading to long-term financial savings and more efficient use of state resources.
In a competitive job market, particularly in education and public service sectors, offering a robust retirement plan is key to attracting and retaining top talent. This is especially relevant for Alaska, where attracting skilled professionals can be challenging due to unique factors such as climate and a higher cost of living compared to other states.
Lastly, reinstating a defined benefits plan aligns with our moral responsibility to teachers, paraprofessionals, and other public servants who dedicate themselves to the furtherance of Alaska’s future. Providing them with a secure retirement is a tangible way of acknowledging and valuing their contributions.
ALASKA'S FUTURE IN EDUCATION
In recent years, we've seen challenges that threaten the quality of education our children receive, exacerbated by the Alaska Legislature's unwillingness to adequately fund public education as mandated by our State’s Constitution.
Alaska’s significant reliance on state funding for education, accounting for 63% of the total revenue for schools, speaks to the Constitutionally mandated role of government in funding education. This is a responsibility that must be taken seriously.
The move by the Alaska Senate to increase public school funding by over $175 million annually was a step in the right direction; however, the partial veto of this increase by the current administration is a concerning development.
The lack of increase in the base student allocation since 2016 is a glaring issue. Inflation and rising costs have hurt our education system, and our funding formulas must reflect these economic realities. We need sustainable, long-term solutions, not just intermittent boosts that leave school districts in uncertainty and turmoil.
Moreover, the exodus of our young population, coupled with significant cuts to university funding, signals a deeper problem. We are not only losing our future generations to other states, but we are also diminishing the very institutions designed to foster their growth and potential.
Our children's future cannot be compromised by political maneuvering or fiscal short-sightedness. I will fight for increased and consistent funding for our schools. It's time we put our children and their education first.
SUPPORTING FAMILIES THROUGH CHILDCARE
I am acutely aware of Anchorage's pressing childcare crisis. Families are grappling with high costs and limited availability, a situation that demands immediate action.
Support for Child Care Providers: We must streamline licensing processes and provide support to new providers. This will increase the number of qualified childcare providers and help reduce the burden on existing facilities.
Community Engagement and Support: Engaging with local communities and families to understand their specific needs and challenges is crucial. We should encourage public-private partnerships and community initiatives that can provide streamlined, innovative, and practical solutions to the childcare crisis.
Universal Pre-K Implementation: I have been a champion for Universal Pre-K. By implementing universal Pre-K, we can ensure that every child in Anchorage has access to early education while also alleviating the childcare burden on working families.
I am committed to seeing these improvements made for the benefit of hardworking families and the future of our children.
PREPARING ALASKA FOR CLIMATE CHANGE
Alaska’s way of life is indeed threatened by climate change. Warming coastal waters and the loss of Arctic ice are having detrimental effects on the environment, including traditional subsistence practices. The reliance on fossil fuels not only impacts the economy but also damages the environment. Transitioning to clean energy sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power can help slow climate change while diversifying the economy.
As Alaska continues to suffer the effects of climate change, the challenges we face are likely to intensify. The state must invest in and prepare for changes that are specific to Alaska's environment. It’s essential to identify innovative ways to adapt the state’s infrastructure, economy, and lifestyle to cope with warmer temperatures, melting sea ice, and thawing permafrost.
Commitment to this work is crucial to preserving our unique Alaskan way of life.
Transitioning to clean solar and wind power will diversify the Alaska economy while slowing climate change.
SUPPORTING UNIONS AND
Abbott Loop School Teachers
Throughout my life, I have been an active member of four unions.
At the age of 18, I worked as a telephone operator with the Communication Workers of America. At 21, I worked in a sewing sweatshop with poor working conditions in Oakland, California. Many of the employees, for whom English was a second language, were afraid to speak out. I organized with the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and, within a week, we went on strike. The strike lasted only a few days, and we became a proud union shop.
While in college, I was a member of the Retail Clerks Union. After graduating from nursing school, I became a member of the California Nurses Association and served as a 'CNA HIV Train the Trainer' in a pilot program for universal precautions. The goal of this successful OSHA-certified program was to decrease HIV exposure and risk in hospital workers.
I have seen firsthand how unions make a difference in the lives of hardworking families. In my experience, unions strengthen communities and contribute to better working conditions for all workers. I support the right to collective bargaining.
Unions improve working conditions, pay, health benefits, and job safety. I will protect and support their efforts. I am proud to have received support from the Alaska State Employees Association/AFSCME.