Murkowski Advances Alaskans’ Priorities in Funding Package
Supports Defense, Labor, Health, and Education in Alaska
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted in favor of a funding package that includes the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) Appropriations Act and the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for FY 2019. As a senior member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murkowski had a significant role in crafting this package. The funding package passed in an 85-7 vote.
The Senate bill must now be conferenced with the House version. The 2019 Fiscal Year begins October 1, 2018.
“When it comes to defense, modernizing infrastructure, bolstering training, and investing in the Arctic must all remain priorities,” said Senator Murkowski. “With two squadrons of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters coming to Eielson in the next two to three years, priority must be given to ensuring a high quality training environment at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC). The Air Force regards JPARC as the crown jewel in its air warfare training arsenal because of the size of the range and absence of encroachments from development on the ground. The $88.9 million investment will help bring the range into the 21st Century, benefitting our local F-22 and F-35 pilots, the Eielson aggressor squadron, and allied Air Forces which fulfill their training requirements during the Red Flag Alaska exercises.”
- Modernizing Air Force Training Ranges: Includes $88.9 million for modernizations, including the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex in Interior Alaska, to meet the challenges of preparing fighter pilots for fifth generation warfare. These funds will pay for new technology such as threat emulators, targets and decoys, detection systems and communications equipment which will enable F-22 and F-35 crews to prepare for advances in the air warfare capabilities of potential adversaries.
- Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot Project: Includes $20 million to startup a new grant program which helps communities pay for off-base infrastructure near military bases.
- Spaceports: Provides $10 million to ensure private spaceports, like Pacific Spaceport Alaska in Kodiak, maintain their readiness to carry out defense missions.
- Innovative Readiness Training: Provides a $10 million budget increase for the Innovative Readiness Training program, which brings military reservists from across the country to Alaska for advanced training in remote construction and healthcare delivery.
- Secure Power Generation: Contains $8 million to determine the feasibility of secure power generation and distribution on military facilities in remote environments. Second year funding of $3 million is provided for an evaluation of distributed generation on Eielson Air Force Base.
- Precision Approach Radar: Provides $5 million to replace an aging Precision Approach Radar at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
- Permafrost Tunnel Research Facility: Provides a $4 million increase for improvements to the Corps of Engineers Permafrost Tunnel Research Facility near Fairbanks.
- Arctic Sustainment Package: Provides for the purchase of additional Arctic Sustainment Packages for the Alaska Air National Guard from a $900 million fund to purchase equipment for the National Guard and Reserves. Arctic Sustainment Packages are used by search and rescue elements of the Alaska Air National Guard to sustain rescuers and victims in Arctic environments.
- Water Supply Contamination Reimbursement: Includes $45 million to reimburse community water supply agencies for contamination of certain firefighting foam chemicals used at Air Force installations, including Eielson Air Force Base and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
- Military Pay Raise: Includes funds to provide for a 2.6% pay increase to military personnel.
- Arctic Broadband Infrastructure: Includes language that requires the Defense Department to evaluate the current state of broadband infrastructure in the Arctic against anticipated needs and to report on the balance between supply and demand of critical and strategic minerals which are used in defense hardware.
- Health Research and Development Programs: Provides $330 million for peer-reviewed medical research. Senator Murkowski once again championed funding for research into ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) by providing $10 to the program. The VA has determined that the presence of ALS in veterans is presumed to be service connected, as they are disproportionately affected by ALS.
- Missile Defense: Provides $9.9 billion for the Missile Defense Agency, which includes $100 million for a new space based program to track incoming missiles. It fully funds the President’s budget request of $500 million to support Israeli cooperative missile defense programs supported by Senator Murkowski.
- F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircrafts: The Senate has proposed to purchase 77 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft in 2019. In addition, the Senate recommended an additional $120 million in advance procurement for the F-35A in order to assist the Air Force in achieving full rate production quantities in fiscal year 2020 – which coincides with the arrival of the first F-35A at Eielson Air Force Base.
- Family Advocacy Program: Adds $20 million to the Defense Family Advocacy Program targeted to address recent reports about child-on-child sexual assaults on military installations.
LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES
“As we work to develop Alaska’s economic opportunities, it’s important that we put the right systems in place to prepare Alaskans to fill those good Alaskan jobs. Among many priorities for Alaska, I’m proud this package includes funding to support locally-led, high quality educational and job training opportunities for Alaskans of all ages,” said Senator Murkowski. “As I worked with my Senate colleagues to write this legislation, my advocacy was informed by Alaskans who work every day to help meet the unique needs in Alaska. I am also very proud that this legislation will fund the National Firefighter Cancer Registry to track the health and safety of the men and women who put their lives on the line in service of others; I was a vocal co-sponsor and advocate for this effort.”
- Alaska Native Educational Equity Program (ANEP): Originally proposed to be eliminated by the administration, $35.4 million is provided to fund supplemental educational programs that help meet the unique needs of Alaska Native schoolchildren.
- Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions: Provides $16 million, a $348,000 increase, to strengthen Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions, including several University of Alaska campuses.
National Initiatives Important for Alaskans:
- Training and Employment Services Grants to States: Maintains level funding of $2.7 billion for state-led job training programs for youth, adults, and dislocated workers.
- Job Corps: Includes level funding at $1.7 billion to provide career and technical training to young Alaskans at facilities such as the Alaska Job Corps Center in Palmer.
- Firefighter Cancer Registry: Bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Senators Murkowski and Menendez to create a national registry for firefighters diagnosed with cancer was signed into law in July 2018. This funding package includes Senators Murkowski and Menendez’s amendment to provide $1 million for the CDC to start up that firefighter cancer registry.
- Obstetric Care: Includes a provision co-sponsored by Senator Murkowski to improve obstetric care for pregnant women living in rural areas by directing $1 million to a HRSA grant program which addresses the need for rural obstetric providers through coordinating care with telemedicine.
- Head Start Program: Provides $10.1 billion for the Head Start program—a $250 million increase—to support high quality early childhood education nationwide, including for 3,000 young Alaskans in 100 communities.
- Child Care and Development Block Grant: Maintains level funding at $5.2 billion to assist child care providers to better meet the needs of low-income working families who seek high-quality, affordable child care.
- School Facilities Condition Study: Senator Murkowski worked with Senator Reed (D-RI) to craft an amendment requiring the Government Accountability Office to study and report to Congress on the condition of public school facilities.
- Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities: Includes increased funding to $32 million to support colleges and universities like Ilisagvik College in Utgiagvik, formerly known as Barrow.
- Federal TRIO Programs: Maintains $1 billion to support programs to help students prepare for and succeed in college.
- Title I: Provides $15.8 billion, an increase of $125 million, to help school districts provide additional educational support for disadvantaged children.
- Title II: Maintains funding at $2.055 billion for Effective Instruction State Grants to support educator professional development
- Impact Aid: Provides $1.439 billion, an increase of $25 million, to reimburse school districts for the cost of educating children connected to non-taxable federal lands.
- Indian Education National Activities: Maintains funding at $6.865 million, including no less than $2.026 million for Native American and Alaska Native Language Immersion Schools and Programs grants, created by Senator Murkowski in 2016 due to the significant cognitive, psychological, and academic benefits of schools where the indigenous language is the primary language of instruction.
- IDEA Grants: Increases funding to #13.493 billion to help schools meet the needs of students with disabilities.
- Career and Technical Education State Grants (Carl D. Perkins): Originally proposed to be eliminated by the administration, maintains funding of $1.19 billion help train youth and young adults for careers.
- Special Olympics: Increased funding by $2.5 million to $17.5 million to support the work of the world's largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Over 2,000 athletes are empowered by Special Olympics Alaska, training and competing in 16 different Olympic-type sports.
- Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Originally proposed to be eliminated by the administration, provides level funding of $445 million for public radio, television, and related online and mobile services. This is especially critical due to diminishing state funds for public broadcasting – the main news source for many communities throughout Alaska.
- Institute for Museum and Library Services: Provides $242 million—an increase of $2 million—that will help Alaska’s libraries and museums serve their communities, such as National Medal awardee the Alaska State Museum in Juneau, and National Medal finalists Craig Public Library, Haines Borough Public Library, Juneau Public Libraries, and the Ketchikan Public Library.