Next week, the full Alaska House of Representatives will consider the proposed operating budget for the State of Alaska. I’m expecting the floor debate to last much of the week due to consideration of budget amendments brought forward by members of the House Minority. While I’m sure some of these amendments will be thoughtfully written and pertinent to the budget, if the past is any guide, many of them will not be relevant to the budget. Instead, many of the budget amendments will be focused on culture war issues and based on grievance politics rather than legitimate budget needs.
Despite the baseless criticisms that will be leveled at the budget proposal next week, House Bill 281 is a good bill that includes a lot of things important to you and your family.
- The budget proposal fully funds public education in FY 23.
- $57 million in one-time funding for public education in Alaska.
- $1.2 billion to early fund public education for FY 24.
- An increase of $2.5 million in pre-K funding for this year and another $2.5 million next year.
- School Bond Debt Reimbursement is fully funded at $79 million statewide.
- $395 million for the Higher Education Investment Fund.
- The Community Assistance Program is fully funded at $30 million.
I’ve long been a strong advocate for direct cash assistance from the State to the people of Alaska in the form of Permanent Fund Dividends. The budget proposal that will be on the House floor next week includes funding to send nearly every Alaskan a check this year of $2,550. That includes a 2022 PFD of $1,250 and a $1,300 energy relief check. With oil prices well above $100 per barrel, the State of Alaska can afford to help offset the high costs of gasoline, heating fuel, and other energy sources. Returning some of the State's windfall to the people through an energy relief check is the right thing to do and I’ll be voting to keep it in the budget when the debate on the House floor begins next week.
I’m here for you. I welcome your input and ideas. Call my office at (907) 465-2095 or send me an email to Rep.Chris.Tuck@akleg.gov.