Working to Move Alaska Forward
I'm as eager as anyone to return to Alaska during Congress' pre-election recess, but I'm also as frustrated as anyone with the lack of progress in Washington, D.C., on issues important to Alaskans. I wanted to vote to extend tax cuts to middle class Americans and to limit the role of special interests in elections, but Republicans have refused to allow votes on those and many other important issues. Average Americans - the 98 percent of taxpayers making $250,000 and less - should receive a permanent tax cut which will help stimulate our economy. I do look forward to voting this week on a bill to crack down on outsourcing of American jobs. Even Alaska is not immune. A General Accounting Office report found that the State of Alaska outsourced the administration of its food stamp program to an overseas competitor which underbid a U.S. company by 18 percent. I support ending these loopholes to keep more American jobs in America. I had productive weekends in Alaska the past two weeks, getting the chance to visit Girdwood, take part in the United for Youth Community Summit, and be on hand for the grand opening of the new Mountain View Library in Anchorage.
Senator Mark Begich
Celebrating Anchorage's New Library
Sen. Begich joined the celebration in Anchorage Saturday for the grand opening of the new Mountain View library. Funding for the project was secured and the project moved forward when Begich was mayor of Anchorage.
Begich Urges President to Green Light Offshore Development
Saying delay is causing irreparable harm to Alaska's economy and oil and gas industry, Sen. Begich has called on President Obama to establish a reasonable timeline to give the green light for developing the enormous oil and gas resources in Alaska's Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). In a recent letter to the President, Begich says the moratorium imposed on Gulf of Mexico drilling after the Deepwater Horizon spill has stalled development plans in Alaska's Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and industry has no certainly about when it will be permitted to proceed with development. "Mr. President, my fellow Alaskans and I stand ready to begin the hard work of responsibly developing these oil and gas resources and providing them to our fellow Americans," the letter states. "What we need is a willing, engaged federal partner and a realistic timetable or plan of action. We need your action and direction now." He pointed out that Alaska's OCS holds 24 billion barrels of oil and 100 trillion cubic feet of clean-burning natural gas which can safely supply a significant portion of America's energy needs.
Begich Supports Small Business Growth, Job Creation
With the goal of providing jobs for Alaskans and giving small business owners the opportunity to create those jobs, Sen. Begich joined his colleagues in supporting the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010. The bill is designed to encourage investment in small business and provide small businesses with the ability to easily access capital so they can expand their businesses and hire or retain workers. Included is a series of tax cuts and expanded lending opportunities to help support the recovering economy and long-term job creation. "I've heard over and over again from small businesses in Alaska that access to financing is key to their survival," Begich said. "This bill makes money available to expand and sustain operations which can only lead to job security for Alaskans."
Special Day for Special Olympics
Sen. Begich Saturday joined the first annual Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day celebration in Anchorage. Shriver is the founder of Special Olympics and will be honored each year with a global call to action for inclusion and acceptance of those with intellectual disabilities.
Repeal of Paperwork Burden on Small Business Urged by Begich
In an effort to ease the paperwork burden on Alaska's small businesses, Sen. Begich has introduced an amendment to repeal the expansion of information reporting requirements to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for payments of $600 or more. The proposed amendment repeals a provision in the new health care law which would require businesses to file a disclosure, known as a Form 1099, to the IRS for payments to a vendor that are more than $600 in a tax year. Begich proposes to pay for the projected loss of revenue from the 1099 repeal by using unobligated dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). His proposal would not affect already funded or obligated Recovery Act projects. "The last thing we need to do is put more paperwork requirements on Alaska's small business owners, who are working everyday to keep their doors open and employees on the job," Begich said. "I supported the health care bill in part to help small business owners provide health coverage for their employees through tax credits and other means. We want health reform to work for small businesses, not burden them."
Alaska's View From The Hill
In this edition of Alaska's View from the Hill, Sen. Begich talks to KTVA's Matthew Felling about Afghanistan, the National Defense Authorization Act, and Begich's desire to extend tax cuts for middle class Alaskans.
Education Dollars Will Help Protect Jobs, Reduce Class Sizes in Alaska
Sen. Begich earlier this month welcomed the U.S. Department of Education's distribution of $23.5 million to support education jobs in Alaska. Under the so-called "teacher-jobs" provisions of a fiscal relief bill passed by the Senate and signed into law last month, $10 billion was approved to avoid teacher layoffs, reduce class sizes and protect existing education jobs around the country. States needed to apply for the education funding by Sept. 9, and Begich said he was pleased Governor Sean Parnell and his administration applied for the one-time assistance. One example of how the teacher-jobs bill will help Alaska comes from the Anchorage School District, which has indicated it would use its portion of the funding to reduce class sizes and bolster tutoring and intervention programs for struggling students. The district recently eliminated 75 teaching positions through attrition but was forced to lay off support staff, including teaching assistants.