Operating Budget Passed in the Alaska Senate

    The Alaska Senate has passed the state's operating budget for Fiscal Year 2019, which totals $3.2 billion in unrestricted general funds for agency and statewide operations.

    This does not include the $1.28 billion proposed for education funding. That will come up separately in House Bill 287 and will offer up to two years of full funding for K-12 education. According to a press release, this was done to protect education from delays caused by disagreements on other budget items.

    With these two sums together, FY2019 will spend aproximately $4.5 billion dollars in UGF, which is a $1 billion dollar drop from FY2015.

    The operating budget also appropriates the Permanent Fund dividend that will be sent out to Alaskans at $1,600

    “This budget provides for the services Alaskans rely on in their everyday lives,” said Sen. Lyman Hoffman (D-Bethel) co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “We need to come together this year to provide fiscal stability and protect the Permanent Fund.”
     
    The House and Senate budgets largely diverged on spending for Medicaid and debt payments for oil and gas tax credits. The Senate’s budget reduced Medicaid spending by $60 million and directed the administration to manage the program costs better. It also includes an additional $135 million to meet the state’s legal obligation to pay down outstanding debt related to oil and gas tax credits.    

    “The Senate prioritized the state’s constitutional obligations in this budget,” said Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River) co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee.  “In order to reduce the size of government, we must actively pursue legislative reforms.”  

    The budget draws $600 million from the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR); the CBR vote passed 15 to 5.
     
    “This budget represents another step toward fiscal certainty for Alaska,” said Senate President Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks). “It’s a tremendous amount of work to put a state’s budget together and I congratulate and thank everyone of my colleagues in the Senate for the work they have done.”

    HB 286 passed the Senate by a vote of 13 to 7 and is now on its way to the Alaska House of Representatives for concurrence.  

     

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