(286) stories found containing 'dan ortiz'


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  • Ortiz will not seek reelection; three candidates file for seat

    Ketchikan Daily News and Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 5, 2024

    Rep. Dan Ortiz, the Ketchikan independent who has represented southern Southeast communities since January 2015, including Wrangell, has decided to withdraw as a candidate for reelection, citing health and family considerations. Ortiz had filed in July as a candidate for reelection to House District 1, representing Ketchikan, Saxman, Metlakatla, Wrangell, Hyder, Coffman Cove and Whale Pass. However, a “more definitive” health concern caused him to reconsider, he told the Ketchikan Daily News on May 28. “It’s been within the last week that I...

  • Fall payment to Alaskans will total about $1,655

    James Brooks, Alaska Beacon|May 22, 2024

    The Alaska Legislature has approved the state budget with a Permanent Fund dividend and bonus of about $1,655 per recipient. The exact figure this fall will depend on the number of approved applicants. The Legislature finished work and adjourned May 15. As has been the case the past several years, the amount of the annual payment was debated at length. Last year, senators wrote the budget so that if oil prices exceeded what the state needed to pay its bills, some of that extra revenue would be reserved for an “energy relief” payment att...

  • More state money possible for school budget and building repairs

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|May 8, 2024

    Gov. Mike Dunleavy has indicated he is willing to accept a one-year increase in state money for schools as legislators work toward a $175 million addition to the funding formula before their scheduled adjournment deadline May 15. The increase would cover almost two-thirds of the projected revenue gap in the Wrangell School District operating budget for the 2024-2025 school year. Districts statewide face significant budget deficits after more than seven years without an increase in the state’s per-student funding formula. Though both the H...

  • Senate wants to fix correspondence school funding dilemma; House divided

    James Brooks, Alaska Beacon|May 1, 2024

    As the state Senate is launching a legislative push intended to quickly fix a looming problem with correspondence school programs in Alaska, the House of Representatives signaled that it is so split that it may need more than a year to act on the issue. House lawmakers spent more than three hours on April 24 debating an informal declaration asking Anchorage Superior Court Judge Adolf Zeman to postpone until June 2025 the implementation of a court ruling that struck down two laws which govern programs used by more than 22,000 Alaska...

  • Child care services, affordable housing essential for Alaskans

    Apr 24, 2024

    According to a report from Housing Alaskans, on average, southern Southeast residents spend between 50% and 60% of their monthly income on rent. Above-average rents are particularly harmful to lower-income families, leading to an alarming increase in the number of families with housing needs. Child care expenses make up a particularly large portion of numerous families’ budgets. Parents without access to affordable child care can be faced with the difficult decisions of cutting essential expenses elsewhere to pay for child care. In some c...

  • Alaska fishing industry needs help from federal and state governments

    Apr 3, 2024

    The fishing industry has been a significant economic driver in the Southeast region for many years, and its importance has only grown over the past two decades. As a public official for the past decade, I have been working hard to support the industry, and I will continue to do so. Unfortunately, the recent collapse of salmon prices worldwide, due to Russia's actions to fund its war efforts in Ukraine, has caused serious challenges to our Southeast Alaska commercial fleet and the industry as a whole. Therefore, support from various entities is...

  • Legislature falls short in override of governor's school funding veto

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 20, 2024

    Alaska lawmakers fell one vote short Monday in an attempt to override the governor’s veto of a comprehensive school funding bill, which included a permanent increase in the state funding formula for K-12 education and which could have provided an additional $440,000 for the Wrangell school district. The additional funds would have covered about two-thirds of the deficit in the Wrangell district’s draft budget, reducing the amount of money it will need to pull out of reserves for the 2024-2025 school year. The vote in a joint session of the Hous...

  • Governor vetoed school funding bill despite wide support

    Mar 20, 2024

    On March 14, Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed Senate Bill 140, which would have provided the largest increase in the base student allocation state funding formula for public schools since its inception. This legislation aimed to boost the base rate by $680 per student, about an 11% increase, a critical measure to uphold the state's constitutional duty to provide public education to all children in Alaska. Even though the BSA has only seen a 4.92% increase since 2012, while the consumer price index has risen more than 25%, indicating a 21% decrease in...

  • Rep. Ortiz commits to supporting extension of senior citizen benefits

    Feb 21, 2024

    As your representative in the Alaska Legislature, I have been and will continue to support legislation that advocates for our growing senior citizen population. That’s why I am proud to cosponsor House Bill 242 which, if passed, will extend the Alaska Senior Benefits Payment Program until June 2034. Alaska has a robust history of supporting its senior population, with the first efforts to help our seniors dating back to 1915. The territorial Legislature’s approval of the old-age bonus program marked the beginning of decades of evolution in ass...

  • State employee drops candidacy for Southeast seat in Legislature

    Ketchikan Daily News|Feb 7, 2024

    Robb Arnold has withdrawn his candidacy to represent Ketchikan, Wrangell and Metlakatla in the state House. Arnold wrote in a statement to the Ketchikan Daily News on Thursday, Feb. 1, that he had ended his campaign. Under state law, Arnold could not continue in his job as a chief purser for the Alaska Marine Highway System and run for state office for the same time. It appears he was unaware of the law when he announced for the Legislature in December to challenge incumbent Rep. Dan Ortiz in District 1. Alaska statute says that, with some...

  • Governor wants to take over appointment of entire ferry system advisory board

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jan 24, 2024

    Unless the Legislature decides otherwise by mid-March, Gov. Mike Dunleavy will take over appointment of the entire nine-member Alaska Marine Highway Operations Board. State law reserves four of the seats for appointment by legislative leaders, but Dunleavy on the first day of the legislative session Jan. 16 introduced an executive order that changes the law so that the governor would control all of the appointments. The change will take effect 60 days after the order was issued — unless a majority of the 60 legislators vote in a joint s...

  • Legislature fails to restore vetoed school funding

    James Brooks, Alaska Beacon|Jan 24, 2024

    The Alaska Legislature failed on Jan. 18 to override Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s veto of $87 million in one-time additional state funding for the 2024-2025 school year. The vote was 33-26 and did not fall along party or political caucus lines. Forty-five votes were needed to override. The failed override capped days of legislative maneuvering and months of unsuccessful lobbying by public-education advocates. Attention now switches to a bill that would permanently increase the state’s funding formula for public schools. Unable to agree last year on...

  • Dividend, school funding will again dominate legislative session

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jan 17, 2024

    State lawmakers went back to work this week in Juneau, with two familiar topics likely to dominate the budget-writing work. “The real question is what are we going to do for the Permanent Fund dividend … and what are we going to do for education,” Rep. Dan Ortiz told the Wrangell borough assembly Jan. 9. “That’s what the argument is going to be about.” Ortiz, a retired schoolteacher in Ketchikan, also represents Wrangell and Metlakatla. He’s been in the state House since January 2015 and serves on the Finance Committee, which is in charge of...

  • Alaskans have more needs than just the dividend

    Jan 17, 2024

    The 2024 Alaska legislative session started Tuesday, Jan. 16. My main committee assignment will be to serve for the eighth year on the House Finance Committee, which is responsible for moving the operating and capital budgets to the full House for approval. The challenge we always face is allocating limited revenue to meet the nearly limitless funding requests, including the annual Permanent Fund dividend. We will begin our work this session with the spending plan submitted by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, which includes a deficit of $987 million and...

  • Challengers file to run against Rep. Ortiz for state House

    Ketchikan Daily News|Jan 3, 2024

    The primary election for the Alaska House of Representatives is more than nine months away and already five-term incumbent Rep. Dan Ortiz has at least two challengers for the District 1 seat that represents Ketchikan, Wrangell and Metlakatla. Robb Arnold, a chief purser aboard the state ferries who ran unsuccessfully for the Ketchikan city council and Ketchikan school board last year, has filed for the state House. Arnold is running as a Republican, as is fellow Republican Jeremy Bynum, who serves on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly....

  • Governor's budget includes no increase in school funding

    Sentinel staff|Dec 20, 2023

    Gov. Mike Dunleavy said education is among his top priorities in the coming fiscal year but did not include an increase to the state’s per-student funding formula, known as the base student allocation, in his proposed budget. The budget includes about $1.11 billion to fund the formula that distributes money to school districts statewide, down almost 3% from this year due to declining enrollment. Dunleavy has proposed spending almost twice as much on next year’s Permanent Fund dividend. Lawmakers this past spring approved a one-time appropriatio...

  • Veterans deserve more supportive mental health care

    Nov 15, 2023

    At the 11th hour on the 11th day on November 1918, the guns fell silent in Europe, marking the end of the Great War, later to become known as World War I. Congress in 1954 passed a bill, signed by President Dwight Eisenhower, that made Nov. 11 a national holiday, Veterans Day. It is crucial that residents in Southern Southeast remember and honor our veterans each year. The day is a reminder to express gratitude toward those who selflessly served their country and safeguarded the freedom and security we enjoy. By actively recognizing and...

  • Resuming regular state ferry service to Rupert a priority

    Oct 18, 2023

    On Friday, Sept. 15, I and other stakeholders and community leaders participated in a ferry system focus group workshop for the southern Southeast service area. As state ferry service is one of the very essential elements of Southeast culture and lifestyle, sustainability of this important resource is a priority for me and the constituents of our legislative district. The first meetings of the group began last May. At that time, the Alaska Marine Highway System was soliciting feedback from stakeholders on the service schedule. The most recent...

  • Report shows area economy is improving, but still work to do to boost Southeast

    Sep 27, 2023

    I had the opportunity last week to attend my 10th Southeast Conference, hosted this year by Sitka. Attending the conference has always been a very efficient and effective way for me to communicate with a large cross-section of business and government leaders from the communities of House District 1, which I represent. One of the regular presenters is Meilani Schijvens of Rain Coast Data, who provides an economic report on the state of the Southeast economy. Her report highlights how the region continues to build upon economic gains made in...

  • Legislators say higher oil revenues will enable more spending on public needs

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Sep 27, 2023

    With high oil prices driving up state revenues, Southeast legislators say to expect a larger capital budget next year for public works projects, more money for deferred maintenance and another attempt to boost state funding for public schools. That’s assuming oil prices stay elevated as the state works its way through the fiscal year that will end on June 30 and remain high in the forecast for the next year. Lawmakers will return to work at the Capitol on Jan. 16. With oil prices last week 30% higher than assumed in this year’s spending pla...

  • Borough assembly votes against funding for children's services caseworker

    Caroleine James, Wrangell Sentinel|Aug 2, 2023

    At its July 25 meeting, the borough assembly decided not to contribute $25,000 to keep a state Office of Children’s Services caseworker in town. The current in-town caseworker is moving off the island, explained Borough Manager Jeff Good, so the position would be left vacant regardless of whether the borough contributed funds. “It doesn’t sound like (OCS) is really excited about trying to bring somebody back here to fill the position,” he said. “I’m not sure what we get out of spending this money and then trying to go after OCS to bring the p...

  • Rep. Ortiz wants to hear public's opinions on vetoes

    Jul 5, 2023

    Gov. Mike Dunleavy last month announced his vetoes for the budget passed by the Legislature. After lawmakers had reached a bipartisan compromise, I was ultimately pleased with the final budget numbers that we passed. Therefore, I and a significant majority in the Legislature were disappointed in what the governor chose to veto. His largest veto was education funding. The legislature passed a $175 million increase in the base student allocation for K-12 public school funding, equivalent to an extra $680 per student. Nearly all of Alaska’s 54 s...

  • State ferry system says it is unable to provide hiring numbers

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 28, 2023

    The Alaska Marine Highway System, which five months ago embarked on improving its hiring process to address chronic crew shortages, is unable to say how many new employees it has hired since then. The push started after a consultant’s report in January determined the state had hired just four out of 250 job applicants over the prior 12 months. The crew shortage forced the state to pull the Kennicott, the second-largest operable ship in the fleet, off this summer’s schedule and keep it tied up at the dock in Ketchikan. Asked how many new emp...

  • Legislators disappointed but not surprised at governor's education funding veto

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 28, 2023

    Southeast legislators said they were disappointed that Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed half of the one-time increase in state money for K-12 public schools, but will try again next year to address education funding needs. “We heard from school districts around the state that needed the money,” Ketchikan Rep. Dan Ortiz said June 21. The $175 million increase that legislators appropriated for the 2023-2024 school year was a compromise between House and Senate members, Democrats, Republicans and independents, he explained. The money, which Dunleavy cut...

  • Hopefully, there's a way to keep children's services job in town

    Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 21, 2023

    It took the community several years of pushing, pleading and politics before it succeeded in convincing the state to restore the Office of Children’s Services caseworker position in town. The job had been eliminated more than a dozen years earlier before it was restored in the 2021-2022 state budget. The caseworker has been on the job since February 2022. But now the borough, which agreed to cover half of the expense of the reopened office, is questioning whether the town is getting its money’s worth in the cost-sharing deal with the sta...

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