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Juneau – Monday, the Alaska House of Representatives met their Constitutional duty to pass an operating budget for the State of Alaska. House Bill 286 largely maintains the current level of essential services, fully-funds Alaska’s Base Student Allocation (BSA), includes additional resources to keep Alaskans safe in their homes and businesses, and authorizes the payment of a $1,600 Permanent Fund Dividend to eligible Alaskans. The House’s operating budget features total General Fund spending of $5.35 billion. $942 million is moved to the principle of the Alaska Permanent Fund to inflation-proof the value of the fund.
“This budget shows the commitment of our Coalition to safeguard the Alaska Permanent Fund and Alaskans’ PFDs. We followed the advice of the experts to inflation-proof the fund and limit the draw from earnings to a sustainable level. I am especially pleased that our budget includes a significantly larger Permanent Fund Dividend than last year, which will help boost our lagging economy and put extra money into the pockets of Alaskans struggling to make ends meet,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham).
The proposed FY 19 state operating budget uses the rules-based Percent of Market Value (POMV) approach to access the earnings of the $66 billion Alaska Permanent Fund to pay for the essential services that Alaskans demand of their state government. The 5.25 percent draw totals $2.7 billion. $1.69 billion will be used to help pay for state services like public education, State Troopers, fish and game management, and road maintenance. $1.02 billion will be used to fund Permanent Fund Dividends of $1,600 for eligible Alaskans.
“By passing this budget, our Coalition showed that we are realistic about the fiscal challenges facing Alaska. We also showed that we are unafraid to make tough choices. Alaska is currently saddled with an oil tax system that lets oil companies retain the largest percentages of total oil revenue in the history of Alaska. At current and projected oil prices this system simply will not fund the kind of Alaska that we all want. We chose the responsible course to develop and pass a budget that augments our dwindling oil tax revenue with the responsible use of the Earnings Reserve account of the Alaska Permanent Fund,” said House Finance Committee Co-Chair Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer), who was tasked with guiding the operating budget through the legislative process in the Alaska House. “I hope the Senate Majority will soon join the Alaska House Majority Coalition in confronting the remainder of our multi-billion-dollar deficit by diversifying our revenue through a comprehensive fiscal plan.”
House Bill 286 passed the Alaska House of Representatives Monday by a vote of 21-19. The operating budget bill will be sent to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.