A key Alaska legislative committee has drafted a state budget that would increase state spending more than Governor Mike Dunleavy predicted. It would also pay a combined dividend from the permanent fund and an energy aid check of about $2,500.
The budget proposal unveiled Friday by the House Finance Committee would spend $4.1 billion in state funding to run the state government. That’s $148 million more than Dunleavy offered..
The committee draft also includes would expand Dunleavy’s proposal to:
- $50 million for public schools;
- $5 million for services for seniors and persons with disabilities;
- $4.6 million for the University of Alaska;
- $4 million for regional and community prisons and;
- $1.5 million for public radio.
The committee took public testimony immediately after presenting the details of the budget.
Anchorage resident Trevor Storrs is president and CEO of the Alaska Children’s Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing abuse and neglect. He testified in favor of the budget.
“We need to invest in our children, the families and the organizations that care for them,” he said.
Dunleavy had proposed a dividend that would equal half the amount the state expects to raise from permanent fund revenue. The committee proposed a similar amount but split it between the PFD and a one-time energy relief check. The future of the PFD formula remains up in the air.
The budget does not include the additional $1,215 payment Dunleavy offered to make up the difference between what the Alaskans received in last year’s PFD and what he had wanted. This proposal is in a separate bill.
Palmer resident Jean Holt said the Legislative Assembly should pay a higher dividend.
“This energy relief check is a bribe to buy our vote,” she said.
The committee plans to wait for the administration to update its revenue forecast before moving the budget forward. It’s scheduled for March 15. If recent oil price forecasts hold, the state wilI have over a billion dollars in additional revenue to budget.
After the committee and the entire House voted on the amendments and the entire bill, the budget would then go to the Senate.
Saturday is the last hearing the committee will hold to gather public testimony on the operating budget. It is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Juneau residents can call 907-586-9085. Anchorage residents can call 907-563-9085. Residents elsewhere can call toll-free 844-586-9085. Alaskans can also submit testimonials via email until next week.