Fighting for Library Program in Face of Cuts

Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO

Alaskans giving public testimony this week on the House’s budget proposal oppose cuts to many areas.

The Republican-led majority released a budget this week that included $145 million more in cuts than Governor Bill Walker’s budget. It would reduce spending on everything from public libraries to senior benefits.

Roughly 100 people testified Monday and Tuesday on the budget.

The cuts include reduced grants to mental health and addiction treatment programs.

Residents also oppose cuts to pre-kindergarten, public libraries, and the University of Alaska. And they say they want the House to avoid cuts to senior benefits and public broadcasting.

Kodiak Public Library Director Katie Baxter urged House Finance Committee members to restore funding for the Online With Libraries, or OWL, program. It funds high-speed internet connections.

“I am here to urge you to restore the governor’s funding of $761,800 to restore the OWL internet connectivity program. This program is an intricate system that is cost efficient, that involves local and federal funding. By eliminating the OWL program as the house subcommittee has done, now we are leaving federal E Rate dollars on the table. And I for one really don’t want to do that."

The House Finance Committee will hear more public testimony today and Thursday.

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