Senate passes a balanced budget with an $84.2 million surplus

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The fully funded budget provides a healthy dividend and avoids spending from savings.

    The Alaska Senate passed House Bill 39, Fiscal Year 2024 operating and capital budgets.

    The Senate’s version of the budget increases education funding outside the formula by $174.9 million – the single largest increase in state history, provides Alaskans with a $1,300 permanent fund dividend, and leaves the state with an $84.2 million surplus.

    The Senate budget is balanced based on the governor’s spring forecast revenue projections of an average of $73 per barrel of oil without dipping into the state’s significantly low reserves savings account, the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR), or passing any additional tax measures.

    “This budget is not only reasonable, but it is also responsible,” said Senate President Gary Stevens. “The hard work that members of Senate Finance did made it possible to find solutions to balance the budget and provide a path to pay back our savings, all without spending down our savings, which is commendable.”

    The budget provides a path to repay the CBR account, which the legislature is constitutionally obligated to do.

    If incoming revenue exceeds projections, the first $636 million is split between a 2024 energy relief payment of up to $500 for every eligible Alaskan and deposits into the CBR.

    This occurs if the average price per barrel of oil in FY 24 averages between $73 - $83 per barrel.

    Any additional revenue above an average of $83 per barrel is deposited into the CBR.  

    “We have a balanced budget at $73 per barrel of oil with the single largest education funding increase in history and a reasonable dividend,” said Senator Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, Operating Budget Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “By pursuing these goals of a balanced budget, being fiscally responsible, and getting our children educated along the way, we can increase the financial strength of the state. This will lower our cost of borrowing and possibly increase the state’s credit rating.”

    The Senate’s version of the operating budget includes the state’s capital budget, which maximizes federal dollars while preventing overspending.

    While constructing the capital budget, the Senate Finance Committee took into consideration five goals: 1) Balance the budget, 2) maximize federal funds and provide grant writers for communities the ability to secure federal grants, 3) establish food security and resource preservation, 4) strengthen state-wide energy programs, and 5) address our deferred maintenance needs.

    Before the Senate passed the budget, the body added additional revenues for Head Start, renewable energy projects, community-based waiver services, and child care grants.

    The Senate adjourned the special session sine die and anticipates the House of Representatives to concur with the budget.

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