Budgets Reverse Senate Cuts to Public Education and Fully Fund 2018 Permanent Fund Dividends
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2017
Juneau – Tonight, to avoid a government shutdown at the beginning of the month, the Alaska House of Representatives passed a combined Capital and Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2018. The House budgets reverse the Senate’s $69 million cut to K-12 education and most of the cut to the University of Alaska. Additionally, the Capital Budget restored the full amount of expected Permanent Fund Dividends, which will be paid in the fall to eligible Alaskans.
“Our actions tonight were not taken lightly. We simply had to remove the threat of a government shutdown from over the heads of Alaskans and our already struggling economy,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham). “We negotiated in good faith for a comprehensive and evenhanded fiscal plan, but the Senate Majority refused to consider anything other than their plan to cut Permanent Fund Dividends. Such a plan is simply unfair and places the sole burden of filling the over $2 billion budget gap on every man, woman, and child in Alaska without balanced contributions from the oil industry or the thousands of out-of-state workers.”
The members of the Alaska House Majority Coalition organized with two goals, to pass a responsible budget and to enact a fair and comprehensive fiscal plan. The Alaska Senate Majority’s refusal to negotiate on the components of a complete fiscal plan has pushed the State of Alaska to the brink of a government shutdown. Tonight’s action by the Alaska House of Representatives to combine the FY 2018 Operating and Capital budgets ensures there will not need to be a government shutdown and that essential state services like public education and public safety are adequately funded.
“The Senate Majority seemed unmoved by the prospect of a government shutdown and refused concede on their cuts to public education and anything other than cuts to PFDs as new revenue,” said House Finance Committee Co-chair Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer). “The members of this Coalition believe in good governance and we tried to reach fiscal solutions this year on a plan that we believe is good public policy. However, we simply could not allow the Senate to deepen the recession and jeopardize the jobs of thousands of Alaskans by pushing the state to a government shutdown.”
Tonight’s unusual move to combine the Capital and Operating budgets shows the determination of the Alaska House Majority Coalition to keep Alaska up and running, especially during the vital commercial fishing and tourism seasons. The members of the Coalition urge their Senate colleagues to accept the budget so that Alaska’s airports stay open, sport fishing, commercial fishing, and tourism can continue uninterrupted, and thousands of hard-working state employees stay on the job serving the people of Alaska.
“I support what we did tonight. It’s time to fulfill our only Constitutional obligation to pass a fully funded budget, because a government shutdown is not acceptable. I am disappointed that the inflexibility of the Senate Majority prevented passage of a fair and comprehensive fiscal plan that gives economic certainty to families and small businesses throughout Alaska,” said House Majority Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage).
Senate Bill 23, which includes the combined Operating and Capital Budget, was passed tonight by a vote of 22-18. The bill will now be sent to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.
After passing the combined Operating and Capital Budget tonight, the Alaska House of Representatives ended the First Special Session of the 30th Alaska State Legislature Sine Die.
For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.