State House passed unfunded operating budget

Legislators passed an unfunded operating budget on Monday, which Alaska House Coalition members, including Minority Whip Louise States, R-Kodiak, labeled a lack of meaningless progress on a fiscal plan.

That unfunded operating budget next headed to the Senate with nearly $600 million still needed from the Constitutional Budget Reserve to balance out.

Fiscal modeling by the Legislative Finance Division shows that the Legislature can fund a $1,250 Basic Student Allocation (BSA) increase needed for schools, literacy, and early childcare programs supported by 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 Stutes. “I am having a difficult time 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 also advanced amendments to stabilize the childcare sector, fund literacy programs, and fund interventions to reduce incidences of childhood abuse and neglect, which were voted down.


They said all of these amendments could be paid for along with the BSA and a strong capital budget, without raiding savings.

The coalition is urging the bipartisan supermajority in the Senate to clean up HB 39 and pass a responsible budget that invests in the state. HB 39, sponsored by House Rules at the request of Gov. Mike Dunleavy, is an act making appropriations for operating and loan program expenses of the state government and for certain programs; capitalizing funds; repealing appropriations; amending appropriations; making reappropriations; and make supplemental appropriations. A hearing on that bill was scheduled this past week before the Senate Finance Committee.