JUNEAU – As the FY24 operating budget heads to the House Floor, the Alaska House Coalition urges members to consider what is both fiscally responsible and possible by keeping downward pressure on needless spending while focusing on meeting the needs of Alaskans.
Last week in the House Finance Committee, members were able to restore funding for public radio, library operations, childcare services, cognitive health, fisheries support, and continued access to public lands, all while reducing the budget.
Fiscal modeling from the non-partisan Legislative Finance Division shows the operating budget can fully fund a BSA increase of $1,250, invest in school readiness programs like Head Start, childcare, Pre-K, and Infant Learning, provide room for a meaningful capital budget with support for the Alaska Marine Highway System, and provide a substantial PFD.
“I am proud of the progress our members made last week in House Finance, and I hope to see the same kind of teamwork on the floor this week,” said Minority Leader Calvin Schrage (NP-Anchorage). “It turns out it’s not that difficult to work together when we are all focused on the needs of Alaskans.”
“Crafting the operating budget is always a difficult process, and that process has grown more so over the last decade with sharp fluctuations in oil prices and state revenues,” said Representative Dan Ortiz (NP-Ketchikan). “Even so, not only can we balance the budget, we can also fund schools, workforce development, childcare and the essential programs Alaskans depend on if we are willing to compromise and make tough decisions.”
“Until a fiscal plan is put in place that diversifies revenues and balances a budget that is sufficient to effectively fund state services and programs, we need to work with the tools at hand,” said Representative Sara Hannan (D-Juneau). “Our caucus has done its best to cut needless spending in order to focus state resources on the services most essential and beneficial to Alaskans.”
“The Legislature knows which levers we can pull to balance the budget this year and, while it is a difficult decision, the result can be something for everyone,” said Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage). “It is time to put the politicization of the budget behind us and get to work for all Alaskans.”
“The solution to our fiscal woes is staring us right in the face,” said Minority Whip Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak). “This is about a long-term vision, and my hope is that our colleagues share that vision.”