Increasing pressure on lawmakers to find a budget solution leads to creative ways to deliver the message

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Great Alaska Schools, which usually focuses on school funding, has expanded its mission, as concerns about a government shutdown increase.

"It's about saving our state that we don't shut it down," said Alyse Galvin with Great Alaska Schools. "But most importantly, it's to help people think about where we are right. That no, we haven't solved our problems in this state, and we're encouraging them (lawmakers) to solve it. Save our state. Save our schools."

This week, the governor offered a compromise. But whether this happens, or not, is now up to lawmakers, who will need to make tough decisions, and soon. By the end of the month, if a solution has not been decided upon and an operating budget has not passed, then state government will shut down.

[Three weeks from a shutdown, governor suggests a compromise for lawmakers]

On Wednesday morning, Galvin and another member of her group, Evelynn Trefon from Newhalen, drove around Anchorage in a large camper. They handed out yard signs and called for a budget solution. Their fliers also had the names and phone numbers of Alaska's lawmakers.

At their first stop, they met Dov Margalit.

"Don't let Alaska shut down, sustainable budget now," Margalit read from the sign. "I totally agree with that 100 percent. We have to find a way to save our schools and fund it."

One of the reasons Alaska lawmakers are six weeks into overtime is because of a disagreement over a need for a broad-based tax on individuals.

On Monday, Gov. Bill Walker suggested to include a possible revenue measure that received little attention in the first 140 days of session - a so-called education head tax.

[Here's what the governor-endorsed 'head tax' would mean for Alaska]

Senate President Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, declined an interview to speak about the governor's compromise proposal earlier in the week, but in a statement he said that his members remain "strongly opposed to an income tax." Kelly did not say whether he considers S.B. 12 an income tax.

The uncertainty created in Juneau, and pink slips given to teachers in Anchorage, is what prompted Galvin to drum-up support for a budget solution.

"People are just done. We're just done, and I'm trying to turn that done energy into something a little more positive than people giving up," Galvin said. "We just want a great place to live in, and I think we just need to make sure our leaders are protecting what we value."



 
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