Murkowski Secures Alaskan’s Priorities to Invest in and Strengthen Families and Communities

Labor, Health, Child Care, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018. As a member of the committee, Senator Lisa Murkowski focused her efforts on funding programs that support Alaskan families, jobs, economic development, health, education, and safety. Referred to as “Labor-H”, it has priorities such as funding to help families with high home heating costs, support for afterschool programs, as well as funding to combat the opioid epidemic.

The Labor-H appropriations bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

“From educational opportunities, to job training, to health programs, this bill will go a long way in serving Alaskans,” said Senator Murkowski. “It will provide Alaskans greater opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills they need, and is a direct investment in steps toward improving overall health, including combating our state’s devastating opioid epidemic."

Improving Health and Safety

Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant: Maintains funding at $641 million for grants to improve the health of mothers and children, including children and youth with special health care needs.

Maternal Depression Screening and Treatment: Provides $5 million for this new program, created by legislation cosponsored by Senator Murkowski, The Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act, to help states improve, create, or maintain programs to train professionals in screening, assessment, and treatment for maternal depression.

Title X Family Planning: Provides $286 million for family planning and related preventive health services for millions of low-income or uninsured individuals.

Teen Pregnancy and Prevention Community Grants: Provides $101 million to invest in both the implementation of evidence-based programs and the development and evaluation of new and innovative approaches to prevent teen pregnancy.

Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant: Maintains funding at $1.8 billion to help plan, implement, and evaluate activities that prevent and treat substance abuse.

Suicide Prevention: Maintains funding at $11 million for the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention program with an additional set-aside of $2 million at Senator Murkowski’s request for American Indians/Alaska Native populations. 

National Institutes of Health (NIH): Provides increased funding at $36 billion for NIH – which conducts state of the art biomedical research. The bill provides for increases for Alzheimer’s research, the Prevision Medicine Initiative, antibiotic resistance research, and the BRAIN initiative. 

Supporting Alaskan Families

Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Originally proposed to be eliminated by the administration, the bill allocates $3.39 billion for the program which acts as a crucial supplement for many Alaskans who face the highest energy prices in the nation. 

Head Start: Maintains funding at $9.2 billion for the Head Start program, which provides educational and health services to over 3,000 young Alaskans in 100 communities. Senator Murkowski also secured language to ensure that HHS will continue to consider the unique challenges faced by Head Start providers in remote and frontier areas and provide grantees the flexibility to meet the needs of their local community.

Child Care and Development Block Grant: Maintains funding at $2.8 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant to assist child care providers to better meet the needs of low-income working families who seek high-quality, affordable child care. 

Special Olympics: Provides increased funding at $15.1 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.

Boosting Educational and Career Opportunities

ESEA Titles I and II and IDEA: Increases funding for Title I, which supports schools’ efforts to serve low-income and other disadvantaged students, increases funding for, which helps schools meet the needs of students with disabilities, and maintains funding for Title II, Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants.

Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants: Increases funding to $450 million for the new formula grant authorized in 2015 by the Every Student Succeeds Act.  These funds will support schools’ efforts to provide a well-rounded education, activities to support safe and healthy students, and to use technology effectively to support student learning. 

Pell Grants: Increases the maximum Pell Grant amount for low-income college students and  ensures that Pell Grant funds can be used year-round to enable students to complete college faster.

21st Century Community Learning Centers: Maintains funding at $1.1 billion to support afterschool programs to give working parents peace of mind and keep kids safe and engaged in learning after school. 

Alaska Native Education Equity Program (ANEP): Provides $32 million for a program designed to meet the unique education needs of Alaska Native students. 

Indian Education National Activities: Ensures increased funds will be available to support Native American and Alaska Native Language Immersion Schools and Programs grants, crafted by Senator Murkowski in the Every Student Succeeds Act. It has been determined that schools where indigenous language is the primary language of instruction have a strong, positive effect on Alaska Native students.

Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Originally proposed to be eliminated, maintains funding at $455 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.

Job Corps: Increases funding for Job Corps at $1.699 billion, to provide career and technical training to young Alaskans. This will provide support for the Alaska Job Corps Center in Palmer, Alaska.

Training and Employment Services Grants to States: Maintains funding at $2.7 billion, to maintain services to unemployed Alaskans, displaced homemakers, underemployed workers, and youth to increase the quality and competitiveness of Alaska’s workforce and increase their ability to get and keep good jobs.