Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau Chamber of Commerce has long advocated for the use of Permanent Fund earnings to help fund state government rather than imposing new taxes.
Chamber officials reacted to Governor Dunleavy's proposed budget while guests on Action Line. The spending plan includes reverting back to the formula used in the past for calculating the dividend and then repaying the dividends diminished in recent years over the next three years.
Chamber Executive Director Craig Dahl said trying to repay dividends plus setting a forward dividend higher than it needs to be is a significant piece to balance the budget. He questioned whether the spending plan is an appropriate response in the time frame. "We didn't get into this situation in a year. We got into this over the last four, five, six years. Even if we're committed to balancing the budget, it's going to take an equal amount of time to work our way back out and still preserve the services that make this a great place to live. This budget and its time frame do not achieve that."
Past chamber President Richard Burns said if the Governor's desire and aim was to have people talking about the state's budget, then that's been achieved. "The Governor can present a budget that he wants, but we have to be able to trust and be calm about the legislative process because that's the process that's got to work through."
Current president Mike Satre added Alaska is presented with a choice. He referred to Permanent Fund earnings as a shock absorber. "How do we keep the ship from crashing. How do we get this tanker turned around and we can use permanent fund earnings to make sure that that happens in a way that doesn't impact our community, doesn't impact the services that we need and required to have a great state." When asked if that's more important than an enhanced PFD, Satre said, "I believe so."
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