Protecting the subsidy that helps lower the cost of power in the bush is Sen. Lyman Hoffman of Bethel’s number one priority again this legislative session.
Last year, the governor’s budget would have transferred, or "swept," the Power Cost Equalization funds into other projects. But Hoffman fought hard to protect it, and succeeded. Now he wants to get legislation in place to protect the program in the future.
“I met with the governor several times last year to try to convince him that Power Cost Equalization should not be a sweepable item,“ Hoffman recalled. “At AFN he made a public statement that he wants to work with me to get language to assure that no other governor can make that a sweepable item. He says that he is supportive of the program, but wants to work with me to get language to make sure it is not sweepable.”
As the Majority Leader in the new Senate organization, Hoffman is in a unique position to get the votes in the Senate for protecting Power Cost Equalization.
The senator says that funding for education won’t be a major battle this year like it was the last session. The new idea being put forth by the administration is a tribal compact on education. Here, Hoffman proposes taking a cautious approach.
“I would say that possibly passing legislation with a pilot progam where one or two school districts can apply and see how it works and get all the kinks out of it before we give it further consideration,” he said.
Hoffman says that something needs to be done because students in public schools, including many in rural Alaska, are not meeting basic educational standards. For example, some third graders still struggle with reading.