FY 2019 Budget Funds a Larger PFD and Includes More Money for Public Safety
Juneau – A compromise budget agreement between the Alaska House of Representatives and the Alaska State Senate was reached today, resulting in the passage of the fiscal year 2019 operating budget for the State of Alaska. Today’s budget deal prevents any disruption in essential public services as the State of Alaska enters the busy summer tourism and fishing seasons. House Bill 286 features total General Fund spending of $6.27 billion. The budget includes Alaska House Majority Coalition priorities such as $942 million to inflation-proof the value of the $65 billion Alaska Permanent Fund, $1.02 billion to pay for $1,600 Permanent Fund Dividends for each eligible Alaskan, a $10 million investment in the University of Alaska above the Governor’s proposal, and multiple measures to improve public safety and law enforcement in Alaska.
“This budget is the culmination of a lot of hard work and compromises on all sides. Our Coalition fought hard for a larger Permanent Fund Dividend because we know how vital PFDs are to Alaskans. The continued long-term health of the Permanent Fund, and in turn the PFD, is a key priority for our coalition, so we stood strong in demanding that the fund be inflation-proofed for the first time in three years,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham). “Throughout the public process to develop this budget, the people of Alaska were loud and clear that public safety is a major priority. Our Coalition worked to ensure no cuts to State Troopers, and we insisted on funding for more prosecutors and public defenders as part of the budget compromise.”
The FY 19 state operating budget incorporates the rules-based Percent of Market Value (POMV) approach that lawmakers approved earlier this week to access the earnings of the $65 billion Alaska Permanent Fund to pay for essential public services and PFDs. The 5.25 percent draw totals $2.7 billion. $1.69 billion will be used to help pay for public services like public education, State Troopers, fish and game management, and road maintenance. $1.02 billion will be used to fund $1,600 PFDs this fall.
“Developing a responsible budget during a fiscal crisis is no easy task. We partially did that with the budget bills that passed today. I take comfort in knowing that by passing a budget in a timely manner the State of Alaska can deliver the essential public services that keep our state running. Further action will be needed to ensure sustainable income for our public services. I represent an area heavily dependent on the tourism and commercial fishing industries, and this budget allows those industries to go forward without interruption,” said House Finance Committee Co-Chair Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer), who served as the lead negotiatior for the House on the HB 286 Conference Committee.
Today, the Alaska House of Representatives approved the budget compromise by a vote of 21-19. The Alaska State Senate passed the compromise by a vote of 15-4. The Fiscal Year 2019 Operating and Mental Health Budgets will now be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his consideration.
For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.