JUNEAU – With lack of meaningful progress on a fiscal plan, the House passed an unfunded operating budget on a vote of 23-17 today. Alaska House Coalition members voted against needless spending, against using savings, and now urge the Senate to fix the structural deficiencies and send back a responsible budget.
The unfunded operating budget heads to the Senate with nearly $600M still needed from the Constitutional Budget Reserve to balance out.
Fiscal modeling by the Legislative Finance Division demonstrates that the Legislature can fund a $1,250 BSA increase needed for schools, literacy and early childcare programs supporting the Governor’s Healthy Families program, with a substantial dividend for Alaskans.
“For weeks I have heard members of the majority state ‘as a conservative’ when speaking, and yet here we are with a budget in the hole by over a half of a billion dollars and thinking nothing of drawing our savings down to a dangerous amount in order to try to pay for it,” said Minority Whip Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak). “I am having a difficult time of making sense of it when in fact we had the opportunity to have a balanced budget with a reasonable dividend, paying all our bills and not drawing from our savings.”
“Why would we drown Alaska’s future when we have the opportunity to pass a balanced budget that invests in education, economic growth, workforce development, and healthy families,” said Minority Leader Calvin Schrage (NP-Anchorage).
Coalition members advanced a suite of amendments to stabilize the childcare sector, fund literacy programs, and fund interventions to reduce the incidence of childhood abuse and neglect, which were voted down. All of these amendments could be paid for along with the BSA, and a strong capital budget, without raiding savings.
Since the majority has been unable to produce a balanced budget despite relatively high oil prices, the Coalition is urging the bipartisan supermajority in the Senate to cleanup HB39 and pass a responsible budget that invests in our state