House passes a 'play it safe' budget, but no dividend yet - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, March 2, 2021
HomePoliticsHouse passes a ‘play it safe’ budget, but no dividend yet

House passes a ‘play it safe’ budget, but no dividend yet

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After hours of amendments, most of which failed, the Alaska House of Representatives approved a $4.5 billion operating budget. The document now goes to the Senate for its consideration and vote, then will land in a conference committee before heading to the governor’s desk.

The operating budget, which passed largely along caucus lines, lacks an appropriation for the Permanent Fund dividend, and also lacks a complete funding source, as there were not enough votes to dip into the Constitutional Budget Reserve.

As the Democrat-led majority did last year, they severed the dividend from the rest of the budget to take up that item separately.

The budget is largely the same as requested by the governor, with a few changes in funding sources, and a few other modest modifications. It’s not so much that the House majority supports the governor’s budget, but it’s not taking any chances in an election year.

A couple of additions added to the House budget:

  • $180,000 to fund one dairy inspector for the one dairy farm left in Alaska. Without dairy inspections, the farm would be out of business, since it is governed by regulations that require state inspections.
  • $1 million more for Alaska Public Radio.

The budget passed 23 to 16, with Rep. Sharon Jackson excused. The Constitutional Budget Reserve provision vote failed to pass on a vote of 23 yeas and 16 nays. To access funds from the account, the Legislature needs a 3/4 vote.

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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

  • My family pays $5.99 for a gallon of milk from local dairy. Fresh and tasty.
    But $180,000 just for 1 inspector leaves a bad taste. Charge me $6.50 and eat this cost not the tax payers.

    • The article does not mention the funding source for this budget item, just the approved expense. There may be a fee for the inspections. If not, there should be.

  • We can’t fly one Dairy guy up from WA several times a year?
    Only our legislators would think this makes sense..this is why we are in the mess we are in..

  • That’s not the way Edgmon operates. It’s about how much money can we blow and screw the state up even further. The wasteful spending that comes out of the Socialist House is appalling. It’s not what’s best for the state but rather localized pockets of perceived need that drives the House majority.

  • Government employees are paid way too much.

    • Will, just because someone makes more than you doesn’t mean they make too much. In fact — and where’s Art Chance to comment on this? — the state falls behind market in mid-level to high-level positions and as such has a hard time attracting leadership talent. That’s why even Dunleavy with his burn it all approach ends up trying to pay cabinet members (Arduin, anyone?) more than the pay scale allows, because no one worth their salt will leave the private sector for today’s state wages. This, my friends, is one of the main reasons the government is such a clown show these days. We have not adequately invested in talent and it shows in our outcomes.

      • The state should pay top price for top quality performers. The state should not pay for more state employees than needed, we currently have thousands more state employees than needed.

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