Palmer, AK — Following a private meeting with Governor Dunleavy and the Governor’s subsequent press conference, members of the Senate Republican Minority for the 33rd Alaska State Legislature met to discuss the Governor’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2024. Overall, the Republican Senators agree with the Governor’s efforts to continue to put downward pressure on the state’s operating budget, maintain a reasonable capital budget, and provide for a statutory dividend in the midst of a sluggish economy which is teetering on a recession while Alaskans are being hit with record high inflation.
Senator Shelley Hughes had the following in reaction to Governor Dunleavy’s proposal. “As I have stated before and will continue to do, our efforts must continue to be focused on finding ways to decrease our operating budget to a sustainable level while providing for essential services and meeting our obligations including the dividend. Unless the law is changed – which it has not been – we should adhere to the formula prescribed by law. The carbon monetization is a positive opportunity as are efforts to bolster student learning through evidence-based reading instruction, the drone industry for national security purposes as well as for economic diversification in our state, food security as an important life/safety matter, legal pushback from federal overreach regarding resource development and other state rights, and an increase in troopers in the field instead of at desks. I will be advocating for additional operating budget efficiencies and a bit more robust capital budget in the upcoming session, but Governor Dunleavy and his team have done a good job and the overall proposal is an excellent starting point. I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues in the coming months.”
Senator Robb Myers of North Pole added, “It’s good to see the governor’s proposal includes the statutory PFD and increased personnel for Troopers. A drop in debt characterized as an operating budget decrease isn’t the type of agency reduction I’d hoped to see, but I believe Governor Dunleavy’s proposed budget is a good starting point, and I look forward to working with him this session.”
Senator Mike Shower of Wasilla concluded, “I am pleased to see the Governor’s initial budget proposal takes the path of fiscal restraint. It prioritizes funding state programs with no implementation of new taxes on people or business. Public safety, education, PCE, to name but a few, are included as well as a capital budget taking full advantage of federal money to continue investment in Alaska infrastructure. Interestingly, it still fully funds a PFD helping average Alaskans in our struggling economy, while providing a needed boost to our private sector. It includes a unique proposal of carbon offsets to eliminate budget deficits, again, with no new taxes. It’s a very good start for Governor Dunleavy’s first budget of his second term. Along with my conservative minority Republican members, I look forward to working with him and our House Republican colleagues on producing a better future for all Alaskans with a reasonable, balanced, and sustainable budget.
The Republican Senate Minority remains committed to being an effective representation of the 65% of Alaska voters who voted for a right-of-center, fiscally conservative senate majority.