Showdown with Decreasing Oil Profits
Continuing declines in North Slope oil production and the ever-increasing costs of government left the 22nd Legislature facing substantial budget shortfalls. Attempts were made to raise revenue through the reinstatement of a personal income tax and by allowing a portion of Permanent Fund earnings to be appropriated; however, an increase on alcohol taxes was the only significant revenue measure approved by both chambers. As a result, over the Legislature's two budget cycles, roughly $1.6 billion in draws from the Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund (CBRF) were debated. Because a three-quarters vote of both chambers is required to access the CBRF, the minority had increased bargaining power in budget negotiations.
Hard fought political battles raged between Governor Tony Knowles and Republican majorities over establishment of an environmental compliance program for wastewater discharge from cruise ships and extending the Regulatory Commission of Alaska-both issues became the subject of special sessions. Additional standoffs occurred over the Governor's desire to increase the minimum wage and a measure adding veterans to those eligible for the state's Pioneer Homes. At the end of both sessions, education funding was a major sticking point, with the Governor and minority Democrats wanting further increases for rural school operation and construction. This too was at issue in a 2002 special session.
Despite the deadlock that at times took hold, the Legislature approved, among other measures, extending Medicaid coverage to low-income individuals with breast or cervical cancer and directed that a study be completed regarding state participation in a gas pipeline project. The Office of Victim's Rights was established and changes were made to the state's retirement system.
Beyond the Legislature
Alaska voters approve ballot measures authorizing the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC ) to sell bonds to back mortgages for qualifying veterans; directing the state to issue bonds for transportation projects and educational and museum facilities; and creating the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority (ANGDA) to further a gasline from Prudhoe Bay to Prince William Sound, among other duties. Voters reject a measure requiring the Legislature to hold sessions in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
On September 11, 2001, hijackers simultaneously take control of four U.S. domestic commercial airliners. All four of the aircraft crashed; two into the World Trade Center in New York City, the third into the Pentagon, and the fourth into a rural field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, following passenger resistance. Nearly 3,000 people are killed in the attacks and the U.S. military retaliates against terrorist camps in Afghanistan.
Wikipedia, a free content "encyclopedia," goes online.
The Euro becomes the official currency of twelve of the European Union's member-states.
Congress enacts the No Child Left Behind Act, bringing significant changes to public education in the U.S.