JUNEAU – The Alaska Legislature early this morning approved the state’s operating and capital budgets for the upcoming 2021 fiscal year, and emergency funding to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
House Bill 205 totals $4.74 billion in state unrestricted general funds. It holds operating expenses relatively flat at $4.62 billion; provides $120 million for a capital budget to repair roads, bridges, and address other critical infrastructure needs; and spends $88 million in emergency funding for COVID-19.
The legislation’s COVID-19 response funding includes:
- $75 million to the Department of Health and Social Services Public Health Emergency Programs to bolster Alaska’s emergency medical and trauma systems;
- $5 million to the Disaster Relief Fund to be used by the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs to help with the public health disaster response;
- $5 million for the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to alleviate COVID-19-related homelessness; and
- $2.7 million for public health in the Municipality of Anchorage.
In total, the Legislature this session has appropriated over $100 million and has provided the Dunleavy administration with open-ended federal receipt authority to address the public health emergency.
The budget protects Alaskans in many other areas, providing:
- $14 million for village public safety;
- $21 million for senior benefits;
- $98 million for Pioneers Homes;
- $151 million for state troopers; and
- $1 billion to inflation proof the Permanent Fund.
The bill also provides a $1,000 Permanent Fund dividend for each eligible Alaskan this fall.
“As the number of Alaskans who test positive for the COVID-19 virus grows, the Senate worked feverishly to craft a budget that would provide statewide community assistance and a give the governor the resources his administration needs,” said Senator Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “We saw the urgency and acted swiftly.
“It’s been one heck of a year for Alaskans, and it’s only March,” said Senator Natasha von Imhof, R-Anchorage, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “At a time when Alaskans are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table, this budget leverages nearly one billion dollars in federal funding for a capital budget that will provide good-paying jobs critical to our state’s economy.”
“This budget provides for the immediate needs of Alaska’s families and businesses,” said Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage. “I am proud of my colleagues in the House and Senate for their diligent work on this budget under challenging circumstances. The Legislature is committed to doing all we can to protect Alaskans from the health and economic impacts of this pandemic.”
HB 205 passed the Senate 13-4 and the House 23-13, for a combined vote of 36-17. The bill is now on its way to Governor Mike Dunleavy to be signed into law.
For more information, contact Senate Majority Communications Director Daniel McDonald at (907) 465-4066.