House majority leaves Permanent Fund dividend out of budget - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, August 23, 2019
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House majority leaves Permanent Fund dividend out of budget

WILL CONTINUE WORK ON THURSDAY

Between deciding to pay for local school bond debts and for a cow inspector for the one dairy farm left in Alaska, the House today added $73 million back to the budget, reducing its budget cuts from last year’s base budget to about $184 million.

The budget that had come out of House Finance had shaved $257 million, but today those ambitions were clawed back by amendments that came mainly from the Democrat-led House Majority.

The Majority put $2.6 million dollars back in the Legislature’s own budget, with sponsor Rep. Chris Tuck arguing that there will be a lot of special sessions this year and they will cost a lot.

House Republican Minority amendments to downsize programs such as Medicaid and even defund the Human Rights Commission all failed.

The Democrat-led Majority has not set a Permanent Fund dividend amount in the budget, nor has it funded education for 2020, although it has forward funded education for 2021.

The amendment to not fund Medicaid elective abortions that passed in the Finance Committee was not challenged by Democrats on the House floor today.

Speaker Bryce Edgmon rolled the more controversial amendments to the bottom of the stack and signaled that he may not get to them all tomorrow.

In the early evening he called for adjournment over the objection of House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, who wanted to continue working through the amendments. The legislative body had voted on about 65 amendments in all by the end of their work today, but several were postponed by the Speaker, without explanation.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Yes, they forward funded Education for this FY (2020) last year with the passage of SB 26. (A strange and probably unconstitutional action, but they like that kind of thing.) So, the House Dems are thinking. They are looking ahead with their own Agenda.

    That the PFD is not in the House Budget could mean a couple of things, and seeing that Dunleavy didn’t put it in his Budget…it could be a good thing ! Dunleavy said he is waiting to see what the Senate will do, and what will come out of the Conference Committee.

    He has three Const. Amendments that are legacy issues for our State, each one involving Revenue and the Legislature: The first is the PFD, the Second is Statewide Tax approval by the People, and the Third is a spending cap. He needs a 2/3rds vote from each Body. How important are they ? More than a balanced budget for one year…

  • Where is Finance Chair Tammie Wilson in all of this? Is she now running with the Democrats in order to keep her high viz seat?
    Tammie, please come out of hiding and state YOUR position on the PFD issue. Your North Pole constituents, and Republicans, want to know.

    • I (North Pole area resident) will seriously question Tammy’s wisdom and judgement before voting for her again. I’m hoping someone is warming up in the bullpen.

    • Hello TAMMIE WILSON!!!! Where are you?

  • Speaker Bryce Edgmon is the worse kind of speaker we may ever have in state history … this man should be run out on a rail!

    • Agreed, Ed.

    • You can thank the foolish Republican, Gary Knopp of Kenai for Bryce Edgmon’s selection as House Speaker.

      He preferred a bare Democrat majority (that is dependent on Republicans, go figure) as opposed to a bare Republican majority.

  • “The Majority put $2.6 million dollars back in the Legislature’s own budget” they should have started work when they reported for duty instead of playing grabass for a month to begin the session.

    Stop wasting government funds, do the job you were elected to do and cut the budget to sustainable levels.

    • Steve-O, you call it grabass but this is known as politics (hardball is always played).

  • This legislature lacks the courage to make the budget cuts necessary to put our state back on a sustainable fiscal path.

    Special interests, wrongheaded beliefs on the proper role of government and an overriding self interest rule the day with them – Republican and Democrat both.

    The only answer is to vote them all out. Nothing will change until we do.

  • The bottom line is whether it is possible to balance the budget without further borrowing from the CBR. To accomplish that, according to the House majority, the Dividend might be cut to $500 this year.
    AND we will still not have made any progress on a healthier capital budget or re-paying the $12 billion the Legislature owes the CBR.
    It’s Cuts versus Dividends at this point.

    • I am very content that the Legislature took income and sales taxes off the table.
      I am also OK with a small income tax but the Dividend must first end or undergo a reformation to an Individual Trust Account ( it would still be subject to annual appropriation by the Legislature).
      It would be a great time to analyze the BP Earning Report and compare our total share of the oil revenue to their profits. My rough approximation (Based on the BP suggested $531 million in real profits is $10/barrel. Obviously this is a subject for the next Legislative session – not this year.

      • Chris, how about a big income tax with a credit against that of the entire PFD? Non-residents earnings would not get that credit and would pay but nearly all residents would pay little or get a refund.

        • We barely make enough money as it is… already Property Taxes are going up.

          I understand the desire to make those who don’t live in Alaska pay more, but a ‘Big Income Tax’ on everyone is probably not the way to do it…

          And if the last 30 years are any indicator, I imagine the State government continuing to grow and eventually needing to take all of our PFD… especially if oil revenues continue to go down.

          We would be left with no PFD and Big Taxes… no way… no can do.

          • Well Griz, those out-of-state folks have not paid a thing in the last 30 plus years and their property taxes will not be going up like yours. Just wait till your local govt. has to come up with the $ to fund its school bond debt.
            Actually none of us have paid any significant taxes, so far, but that it changing IMO.

  • Right on!! We have a legislature that kicks the can down the road. Every body and their uncle pays for all communities when the fact of the matter is that we have lot of “unorganized’ boroughs that take on no tax of any kind with the “oh feel sorry for me” attitude. They have never paid for their problems but stand out with hands out and ready to take money they have put nothing into. Boroughs are taxed from the earnings of those living in them. The unorganized borough does nothing for the tax issue or pay for issues with their taxes paid by people who make a difference. What is everyone thinking? The Federal government pays for 90% of transportation costs, the state pays for 10%. Make a budget on cutting some of the 10%. Education should have vouchers giving families choices, which means public education would still be there but reduced with some teacher in public education and some in private. Where is the brain power of the legislature on that? No where!!! Every community down the oil pipeline has received oil royalties for all these years and can’t pay a tax or do anything for their community. The university needs to be broken up with three hub campuses managed solely by the latitudinal area of education and culture they serve. Save money for the future and above all put management in the hands of the main campuses instead of the poor decisions of the now president at UAF. Whatever happened to the Grant Writers of the State of Alaska? They have a job to find funds for every Department of the State of Alaska. Are they still sitting on their thumbs wondering what to do? You can’t have my PFD…I want the constitutional amendment and the “Plan” that Governor Dunleavy put forward. The lazy thinkers in the legislature need to get busy. The cronies need to go since you have shown you can’t do your jobs.

    • Let me say here that those in organized boroughs will end up paying for many of those cuts by their local govts. levying greater property taxes to make up for those cuts. Those in unorganized boroughs will not see their property taxes go up and, I suspect, they are the ones most behind these increased PFDs paid for with other cuts to the budget.
      As for your vouchers, they would not result in less spending, only on how its spent.

    • School vouchers?? Schools of choice??? Rreduced education and ” some private”??? What planet are you from, or better yet, what state?? Most boroughs and communities don’t have more than one school!! You sound like a raving lunatic!!! Oh right, you support dunleavy.

      • Lynn, I can only speak for Anchorage’s schools. I was a product of Anchorage’s public schools in the ’80s until my parents allowed me to drop out in 10th grade, start working at 16, and started at UAA at 17. My first bachelor degree was finance with a minor in statistics. I made a lot of money tutoring other students at my age how to do basic math, basic algebra, and basic stats 101. My son spent his first 10 years in Montessori. In Junior High, he was enrolled in a public school. He spent more time in the principal’s office and in detention than anything else because he was bored, so I pulled him out at 16. He spent a year in Japan, returned in Alaska long enough to breeze through this GED, and is currently in an out-of-state college.
        .
        Needless to say, I am a huge proponent of charter schools, school choice, and vouchers. When 58% of Alaskan public schools are spent on Administration, not on teachers, is a problem, in my opinion. The Administration can be reduced without reducing the number of teachers. When our public schools continually rank within the top 10 bottom nationally, that’s a problem. Forcing parents to send schools based solely on their zip code, that’s a problem. Allowing parents to choose which school they would prefer to send their child, regardless of public school, charter school, etc., leads to better outcomes for the kids. Our current public schools “one-size-fit-all” is erroneous. Fact is, there are lots of different ways children learn.
        .
        There are several leading newspapers and studies regarding education. I suggest you start with CATO Institute, but there are other left-leaning and right-leaning articles as well.
        .
        By the way, I didn’t vote for Dunleavy and am certainly not a raving lunatic. I prefer to base my beliefs on actual facts. You are right that some communities don’t have more than one school, but the vast majority of Alaskans population live in cities that actually do have more than one and can certainly make choices if they are able to.

  • Fella, I can see that you have nothing between your ears! Did you manage to get out of High school or never made that as a goal? You are showing your number skills for sure. You need to start traveling around Alaska and checking out the communities.

  • Thanks! S. Evans….you said a lot and the truth of the matter on education here in Alaska. Teaching is a sham and the students are in survival mode when they hit the doors of the school. Vouchers for families and choices.