Sun. Jul 5th, 2020

Alaskan Officials Debate Gov. Dunleavy’s Plan to Fund Capital Budget

2 min read
Alaska LawMakers

Two new Senate Bills will fund most of Alaska’s capital budget. However, they will not fund certain items like harbor construction.

Lawmakers must find a new way to fund the various projects in the capital budget since the first capital budget law didn’t define a source.

The Republican House minority stopped the attempts to withdraw the needed funds from the Constitutional Budget Reserve. In order for the state to withdraw from that account, they need three-quarters of both the House and the Senate. However, the House minority wants the Alaskan dividend to be funded fully before drawing from the budget reserve. On the other hand, the House majority doesn’t want to use state savings for the dividend.

Questions about how to fund the various projects still remain. The budget still depends on the general fund. However, there is a $102 million difference between the expected expenses and revenues if the bill is to pass.

Gov. Dunleavy’s administration has vowed to use the next year to revisit the cost of programs.

The Resistance of the Senate

This prompted a response from certain parts of the Alaska Senate, citing specific programs that could be affected by this approach.

They listed the Vaccine Assessment Fund as an example of the type of program which could be affected, claiming that such programs are emergency response, and the reason why they have millions of dollars in funds is so that they can be deployed instantly if the need arises.

Both the administration and legislators want the capital budget to be passed as soon as possible to be able to access up to $1 billion of the Federal Government’s matching funds.

The other major item on the agenda is the issue of permanent fund dividends, which still remains a hotly contested topic.

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