The office of Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, released the meeting schedule for the University of Alaska budget subcommittee she will chair as a member of the House Finance Committee Thursday, and Muñoz said she is looking forward to the subcommittee getting underway.
The Finance Committee delegates subcommittees to tackle specific state agency budgets every year, and Muñoz will be chairwoman of the subcommittee on the University of Alaska budget schedule, as well as chairwoman of the subcommittee on the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s budget.
Those are the assignments Muñoz said she had requested when she was named to the House Finance Committee.
Muñoz cited the University of Alaska Southeast’s Center for Mine Training as a key interest.
“The university obviously has a big presence in Southeast, and UAS is very important to our economy,” said Muñoz. “I’ve been very involved in the mining training program at the university, and I want to have an opportunity to support the good work that’s happening out at UAS.”
As for the DEC, Muñoz said, “I’ve had a longtime interest in a couple of DEC-related topics. One has been the issue of marine debris, and particularly now with the tsunami debris and Alaska’s response to that. I’ve been very interested in that topic for a long time, long before the tsunami — now much more so because of the tsunami. And also, I’m very interested in the invasive species outbreaks that have popped up, particularly in Sitka.”
Muñoz’s university budget subcommittee has its first meeting next Tuesday at 3 p.m., in the House Judiciary Committee Room on the Alaska State Capitol’s first floor.
“We will be meeting at that same time every week throughout the month of February,” Muñoz added.
The DEC subcommittee will not meet until Feb. 5.
Muñoz said she sees the subcommittee process as a chance for members to bring their own “expertise” to individual pieces of the budget.
“I want to have … an open process where committee members will have an opportunity to really dig into the aspects of the budgets that they are most interested in, and an opportunity for them to make specific recommendations to the full Finance Committee,” said Muñoz. “I want it to be a very interactive process.”
With the subcommittee process getting underway, Muñoz said she has been meeting with Legislative Finance Division analysts and university officials, including University of Alaska President Patrick Gamble and UAS Chancellor John Pugh, to prepare. As a first-time member of the House Finance Committee, she has not been responsible for a legislative budget subcommittee before.
“It’s a big learning curve, for sure, but I’m doing a lot to get ready,” Muñoz said.
• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 586-1821 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.