Senate approves state budget bill

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) Juneau Senator Jesse Kiehl was the lone nay vote in a 19-1 vote by the Alaska Senate to approve House Bill 39, the state operating budget.

    The budget now goes to a conference committee for further review.

    The Senate version proposes to take $12 billion out of the earnings reserve of the permanent.  It also includes a $3,000 PFD dividend.

    Sen. Kiehl said he felt the budget took too much money out of medicaid.  "The bill doesn't balance what we spend with what we authorize to spend, it is not a balanced budget.  There are things to not like about the budget.  I think we cut infrastructure that damages the economy and it doesn't do enough to address crime.

    Kiehl said the budget won't cover state expenses through next June but that money will run out next April.

    "We didn't talk about a health Alaska economy with what the government needs to do to support the economy."

    He also criticized flat funding for public education and the university system.  "If this budget balanced I could probably grit my teeth and get through the year, but it doesn't."

    Senators contend they have set a record for cuts in the budget this year.  The House and Social Services budget proposal was cut by over $140 million.

    Both Democrats and Republicans who spoke on the Senate floor praised the budget process this year and had praise for the open dialogue.  Senators Bert Stedman of Sitka and Natasha von Imhof were Co-Chairmen of the Finance Committee this year.


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