NEA-Alaska's top three priorities for 2009 are school funding, rural teacher housing and a return to a Defined Benefit pension plan. All three have been the focus of our work this month. If you didn't catch it, take a look at the February 22 Anchorage Daily News editorial on the Defined Benefit issue. The momentum is building to fix the problems associated with the change in our retirement systems. Public testimony was taken on Thursday on the senate side for SB 23. We anticipate it moving out of the Labor and Commerce committee in the coming week.
I had a very productive meeting on Friday with Senator Lisa Murkowski and representatives from a number of other groups on housing for public employees in rural communities. This was a preliminary meeting and the group agreed to meet monthly to address this huge need. The Denali Commission, AHFC, RuralCap, PSEA, AFL-CIO and NEA-Alaska were all in the room. We identified other groups we hope to include in future meetings. Several others were invited, but it didn't work out for them to join us. I will be setting up a schedule for upcoming meeting dates this week.
School funding is uncertain at this time. I should know more soon as I will be in Juneau all week.
Are you enjoying the sunshine coming back? This is my favorite time of year!