Coalition Members Demand Action on Comprehensive Fiscal Solutions This Year; Jobs, the Economy, and Alaska’s Credit Rating Hang in the Balance
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2017
Juneau – Tonight, to avert the looming government shutdown, the Alaska State Legislature passed the Fiscal Year 2018 Operating Budget. The compromise budget totals $4.1 billion in Unrestricted General Fund (UGF) spending and sets this year’s Permanent Fund Dividend at $1,100. The K-12 Base Student Allocation (BSA) will be fully funded at $1.2 billion, the same level of funding as the current year. This reverses the $69 million cut to education advanced by the Alaska Senate.
“The compromise budget we passed tonight prevents a government shutdown and funds the essential state services that help drive our economy. Fisheries will continue uninterrupted, our airports will stay open, and Troopers will stay on the beat,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham). “However, the job is only half done. We now call on the Senate Majority to join us in enacting a comprehensive fiscal plan.”
The members of the Alaska House Majority Coalition stand at the ready to continue the work left unfinished. That includes the FY 2018 Capital Budget, legislation to create a sustainable draw on Permanent Fund earnings, reforms to Alaska’s oil tax regime, and new broad-based revenues.
“There is overwhelming evidence that the best way to protect our economy is to diversify our revenue and take away some of the volatility that comes from relying on the fluctuating price of oil or the inherent ups and downs in the stock market,” said House Finance Committee Co-chair Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer). “The budget we passed tonight prevents a government shutdown and keeps Alaska up and running. However, it’s an incomplete solution that continues the unsustainable budgeting of the past four years. Hopefully, with the operating budget out of the way, the Senate Majority will be good to their word and give serious consideration to the comprehensive fiscal plan we successfully passed through the House.”
The compromise budget that passed tonight reverses $14 million of the $22 million in additional cuts to the University of Alaska advanced by the State Senate. The $6 million cut to Pioneer Homes put forward by the Senate Majority was also reversed.
In total, the compromise budget cuts $128.7 million from FY 2018 agency and statewide operations compared to the FY 2017 budget. The FY 2018 cut is $23 million more than the cut in the budget that originally passed the Alaska House of Representatives in March.
“Preventing a government shutdown was of the utmost importance and I am pleased all sides could finally agree on a budget that avoids that,” said House Rules Committee Chair Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R-Anchorage). “I know that we have the tools, and continue to believe the Legislature has the will to put in place the kind of comprehensive fiscal plan credit-raters, economists, and other experts have endorsed. The urgency lawmakers felt the last few days to reach a budget deal is the same kind of urgency needed in the coming days and weeks to solve Alaska’s fiscal crisis and equip our economy to succeed. What Alaska needs right now are leaders, not lawmakers comfortable with kicking the can down the road.”
Tonight’s budget compromise was put in place by the Conference Committee appointed to work out the differences between the competing versions of the budget bills passed by the House and Senate. The Conference Committee wrapped up work earlier today and sent the compromise version of HB 57 to the two bodies for consideration. The Alaska House of Representatives passed HB 57 by a vote of 31-8. The Alaska Senate passed the bill by a vote of 16-1. The bill will now be sent to Governor Bill Walker for consideration.
For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.