Senate budget: Conservative, with small surplus and $1,300 PFD

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The Senate Finance Committee has released its version of the Alaska state operating budget, which includes a split of the Alaska Permanent Fund’s earnings.

Under the proposal, the government would receive 75% of available oil revenue earnings, while Alaskans would receive 25% in the form of Permanent Fund dividends of approximately $1,304. Additionally, the Finance Committee has budgeted a one-time allocation of $174.9 million for education, which amounts to $680 per student.

Sen. Bert Stedman of Sitka said the budget lives within the state’s means, is balanced, and does not dip into the Constitutional Budget Reserve, which is the account the Legislature may borrow from to meet demands. The fund is reaching the bottom after having been borrowed from repeatedly over the past decade, and never replenished. It has just $2.4 billion left.

“The constitution mandates us to deliver to the governor a balanced budget. Within the confines of the spring revenue forecast and not dipping into our perilously low reserves, we balance the budget with the potential opportunity of revisiting it next January to deal with further maintenance and capital needs,” Stedman said.

The committee used the spring oil revenue forecast of $73 per barrel for the next fiscal year. The budgeters were conservative in that they also left a $93 million surplus, which is a rounding error in a budget, but gives the State a little wiggle room if the price of oil dips.

If oil comes in higher than forecasted, the Senate is proposing replenishing the Constitutional Budget Reserve with the first one billion dollars, and after that, it would up up to $1.1 billion toward the Public Education fund to forward-fund education.

Alexei Painter, director of the Legislative Finance Division, told the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday that the surplus could be swallowed up by even a small drop in oil prices below the $73-per-barrel forecast.

At the same time, the Senate is weighing a permanent increase to the base student allocation, with is the funding formula for schools. If it comes to an agreement on making the $680-per-student increase a permanent fixture for future legislatures, the senators will back out the one-time increase.

On the House side, the budget proposal has a $600 million deficit and a nearly $2,700 dividend, which is still not a statutory PFD, but is what the House offered as a compromise to the governor’s proposal of a $3,500 PFD.

The Senate also produced a new version of the capital budget — spending on construction and maintenance around the state. SB 41 has $30 million for school maintenance and $32 million for the University of Alaska capital improvements and repairs. The Finance Committee set four goals: Capture as much federal matching money as possible and provide grant writers for communities so they can apply for federal funds, establish food security and resource preservation, strengthen statewide energy programs, and deal with deferred maintenance items.

“We have limited resources to work with, making this capital budget one of the smallest we have seen in a long time. But we have focused on putting in money for major maintenance for schools and the university system to prioritize our existing structures,” said Sen. Lyman Hoffman, capital budget chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “We’ve chosen not to do any individual district projects, but are concentrating on shoring up statewide existing infrastructure.”

The Senate budget totals about $6.2 billion and, unlike the House version, does not require a three-quarters vote of the entire Legislature to access the Constitutional Budget Reserve funds, which is always a major hurdle for lawmakers.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget, with its $3,500 dividend, has no increases to education, and would require dipping into the Constitutional Budget Reserve to get $900 million needed to balance.

The House and Senate budget differences are normally ironed out through a negotiation in an appointed conference committee at the very end of the session.

48 COMMENTS

  1. Thats our senate, giving away our money to the corrupt school system.
    They truly HATE WE THE PEOPLE!
    Hey politicians, resign in disgrace as you are the true traitors to we the people.
    You may as well burn the millions you will waste on education, it would be better spent burning than grooming.
    DemocratsDestroyingDemocracy with the help of the RINOs/turnciats that destroyed our democracy when the RINOs handed over control to the DUMBOCRATS.
    Pissing off we the people in the process is not healthy, we will vote you out if we still have a country when you have finished killing ALASKA.

    • …but Molly, we don’t vote them out when the opportunity arises. Very poor voter turnout allows the same folks to be re-elected time after time. Now, 50/50 PFD is not enough for them to take for growing the government. So 75 government and 25 for the peasants! And we sure need to give more money to the schools that are FAILING our children! No wonder people are leaving this once awesome state ?

      • There’s nothing wrong with the state. It’s still awesome and still beautiful. It’s the people infesting it that aren’t so pretty. I’m sure that’s probably what you meant.

  2. Our Alaska GOP at work.

    Cutting the legally owed PFD to sustain a massively bloated and inefficient government.

    At the same time, giving more money for one of the worst educational systems in America.

    The Alaska GOP, people. The alleged party of personal responsibility, small government, law and order. Elsewhere, perhaps. Not in Alaska.

    The party from its useless standard bearer of an alleged governor down to the lowest borough level official needs to be nuked. Not fixed, nuked. Alaska deserves a better alternative than this.

    • Have you seen the work done by Jay Inslee of Washington state and Gavin Newsome of California? Be happy for what we have here, we’re very fortunate.

      • Stop making excuses for the GOP.

        Neither Newsom or Inslee claim to republicans or conservatives.

      • I’m with you Jim! The “We the People” can take it in the shirts and accept what what handouts they are given! Besides, as 1 Tim 6:10 has it, “[T]he love of money is the root of all evil.” It’s best to restrain the greed of the people for their own “salvation!”

        • Edit: “The ‘We the People’ can take it in the shorts and accept what handouts they are given!”

          • I notice you don’t take umbrage at the repeated dispensation of billions of dollars of the peoples money to people that do NOTHING to earn it in multiple locales in Alaska with ZERO economy.

      • I look at what Gov DeSantis in Florida or Gov Kim Reynolds of Iowa (including legislators). Makes our GOP look like New York light.

  3. $174.9 million for “education”? It would be more useful to make a pile of it in cash money and burn it. Government schools are compliance factories and do very little, if any, educating. How about empowering families and small co-ops to educate their own? Not that we need the help. It would be better if they did nothing at all.

    > Capture as much federal matching money as possible and provide grant writers for communities so they can apply for federal funds

    So perpetuate the problem and watch us – and future generations- all sink into more unpayable debt? Rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic much?

    This crop of pols has to go. Malevolent and maleficent. Nearly every one of them.

  4. and still no cuts, spending limits or anything other outside of the box thinking that is gonna be required to get the situation under control? it’s gonna be a sales tax next then income followed by them taking the rest of the dividend and incremental small boil the frog slowly tax increases after that simply because the political class will only grow in size and never cut anything.

    there needs to be an audit done by Austrian economist cpa’s and other experts unaffiliated with government I’m sure people who have no ties with the corrupt pollical class would have 10 different plans to right size the government and its out of control spending within 90 days

    • You can’t blame the Senate, they are filled with liberals and RINO’s. The Republican House still is not cutting any of the budget. The House budget should be lower than the Senate’s. You know the governor won’t use his veto pen either. There really is no backbone in the Republicans everywhere. If you going to cut the PFD, you need to show real cuts to the State budget before you get any buy-in to lower the PFD. That doesn’t happen.

      • Perhaps someone on this forum can remind me what happened to the BILLIONS of dollars the state received in Covid funds? As far as I can tell, a good portion of it hasn’t been spent yet and state government seems to be sitting on it and acting like it never existed.

  5. While at the same time state employees enjoy pay raises, benefits far and away what Alaska small businesses receive, nonprofits flourish even as we all know that there is no such thing as a nonprofit because the profits are hidden into salaries.
    Summarize, give Alaskans their full 3,700.00 PFD 😉

  6. I can live with this, as long as there isn’t any further talk about state sales and/or income taxes. Don’t get me wrong as I’m just as pissed as anyone else about the lack of statutory PFD’s and the legislature’s priorities, but it’s acceptable.

  7. So we went from a full PFD to a 50% share and now 25%. Next we get nothing and then we get taxed. Stealing legislatures need to cut the bloated government by 50%. We should demand the state make everything free for Alaskans. No more vehicle in their registration taxes. No fishing and hunting fees. No camping fees. No gas taxes. They have stole our money.

    • Agreed,
      There is strength in numbers and if the majority of our population just decided to ignore the rules and policies created by those who think they rule us, there is little they could do about it.

  8. Oh My … The Poor State!?!? Maybe if we just got rid of that dang PFD by donating that back to the subject matter expert Fiduciary Managers (State Guv’ment), institute // implement a State Sales (minimum 10%) and Income Tax (minimum 10%), increased any-and-all user and access fees, increase business taxes, levy Recreational Vehicle Tax (ie: Motor Homes, Motorcycles, Airplanes, Boats, Jet Skis, Snow Machines, ATV and 4-Wheelers), increased utility rate taxes, etc. …. We might then improve making the State ‘whole’ again and they could continue their endeavor on providing efficient and effective services of enormous value to the citizenry, as well as, attract business entrepreneurship, industry, and the Top 1% of the talent pool to Alaska???
    Oh Yeah … These politicians are on the right track!?!?!

    Art C has been spot on, all along. Folks should be paying close attention to his perspective and analysis.

  9. This is an illegal heist of OUR share of the Permanent Fund. What happened to the statue amount WE ARE supposed to get?? What ever happened to the Law that it cannot be changed without the VOTE of the people.?? They are grabbing and using it without our vote..You know the schools aren’t going to get the money that is “said” to be used for the students. We all know the students aren’t going to get the money. It’ll be given to administrations and that will end that.

    • Actually, most administrators are topped out on the pay scale. They don’t get a raise. I guess you’re not aware of what exactly it takes to run a bush school with the one of the biggest expenses being sports travel. Most districts have grant writers that allows them to get computer money and various other medias. Everything is going up in price though. But if you think that administrators are making bank with some sort of offshore account with this money you’re sorely mistaken.

  10. I would rather see the 174 million bucks go into the Budget Reserve instead of the rathole some call public “education”!

  11. Thank you Senator Kaufman! I think probably the firmest voice in the Senate against bankrupting the State in the name of huge PFDs now that Senator von Imhof is out of the leg.

    The spendthrift House members are a punchline version of “conservative”. Yeah, let’s not cut the budget and also pay out free government checks in the name of… some conservative principle or another? Oh, and let’s also pass the highest overhead and most involved (largest growth of Gov to collect the tax) mechanism available, nothing better than sending out free Government money except expensively collecting money from Alaskans to send it to folks who didn’t earn it.

    • The state will not be bankrupted by statutory PFD’s. What will continue our path towards bankruptcy are all the welfare entitlement programs, one which I consider to be our piss-poor education system.

      • You’re only looking at the results of some standardized tests. I didn’t see the test where it graded parents on whether or not they were poor examples or not. The school can only do so much. They can’t force a student to do homework. They are under pressure by parents whose sole duty is to somehow pressure the school to make their kids eligible for sports. I often thought that was there mantra. Kids are born the same with the exception of some that are born with a lower IQ or suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome or something like that. If parents don’t read the kids and take a responsibility in their education, there’s little a reading teacher can do with 15 minutes a day. All they can do is try their best which I have noticed that they do.

  12. Perhaps schools need more money because teachers testified they raise the children and their role in the children is more important than the parents.
    Fyi our Nation ranks Alaska at 44….. We do a better job than 6 states but note we our we spend more than most states….

    What really is the goal for the children future from the view of our schools administration and NEA? Improving results for success to be educated to have employment in the future for the children is currently not as important as social political change.

    • Alaska schools have to spend more per student because it takes more. Just like if you ever lived in the bush it takes more to live out there than it does in Anchorage.

  13. I have been saying for years that every department of State Government needs an audit and get them all in line with the actual personnel to cover the amount of work really produced.

  14. I cannot believe how black Stedman’s heart has become, the PFD is so important to just get by. And thanks to foolish Joe fuel is going threw the roof again! Thieves and lier’s the lot. I have lost all respect for our Legislature.

  15. And yet, for some reason, we keep sending these same crooks back to the legislature. Or in the case of Giessel, send them back.

    It’s time to stop the complaining and accept reality. This IS the government we want. Otherwise we wouldn’t keep electing them.

    Want to say I’m wrong? Puff up with outrage? Before we do, and without using the tripe of stolen elections, tell me why these people keep getting re-elected.

    • Mostly because voters are uneducated and care less about the actual candidate. Many vote just for the party. How many times have you gone to the ballot, and didn’t know squad about a dozen judges that were up for reelection and just check the empty box? I’m guilty of that myself. Many don’t have a care about who sits in the position. People aren’t electing these people because they’re doing anything good or bad. I believe most are just doodling in a box.

  16. So they are still stealing from the citizen’s PFD checks, but not one word is spoken about fixing our broken education system, which is ranked second worst out of 50 states, but on the flip side is the second most expensive on a per student cost.

    Nope, not going to fix it, just continue to shovel increasingly vast sums of money at it.

  17. ??? Senators Stevens, Stedman, Bishop and Hoffman just found Jesus ‼️‼️‼️

    They really think we’re so stupid as to think that the same guys that blew through $16 Billion since 2012, are now reading Bible verses on ” thou shall not steal”???

    Nicel try thieves, but I’m not biting.

  18. Rather than obey the law, as they allegedly took a solemn oath to uphold, and distribute Alaska PFD revenue according to Alaska Statute, the state legislature (lawmakers) has chosen to keep the money to spend elsewhere. If Alaskans allow them to get away with this “illegal” act AGAIN, you pretty much deserve what you “don’t” get?

  19. There should be no increase in education. And could even reduce DOT, along with other departments. In fact let’s put all state positions in parity with the private sector. That could really reduce the budget.

  20. A full statutory payout at least gives the families with children a fighting chance at a quality education in a private school setting where parents dont have to worry about what kind of bulls**t the state and taxpayer funded schools are forcing down our childrens throats.

    I had to send both of my sons to Alaska Military Youth Academy due to woke teachers at South High who refused to grade their assignments/essays fairly simply because the subject matter they chose to research and write about was not in alignment with their political beliefs. They were both at risk of failing to graduate on account of it. But that was a blessing in disguise. They both thrived at AMYA receiving the best grades they have ever gotten in their history of education. They both said they learned more in 5 months than they did in two years of ASD. They will earn twice as many credits in less time and as a bonus they taught discipline structure AND respect for others as well as self esteem for themselves. It was the best moment of fatherhood for me seeing them graduate at the top of their class and the self pride they earned from being challenged.

    Parents, if you want to guarantee your children’s success in life AMYA is by far the best program in the State and Nation. The work ethic being taught there is phenomenal! I saw kids walk across the stage with such pride who I never thought would make it prior to attending. They have the most awesome teachers in the state! I just cant say enough about AMYA, they are by far the best! ASD sucks.

    • You have to be labeled “At Risk Youth” to get into AMYA (IE, not on a good path), even the charter says this. So people can’t just apply for their kids to go there like an alternative school. If your kids had problems you could have had them do zone exemptions and transfer to Service or Diamond (If you were South Anchorage) or homeschooled them through Family Charter program. SO it sounds like there were other issues aside from “woke teachers”. Don’t get me wrong there are tons of things wrong with ASD teachers but something sounds like we didn’t get all the story. If your kids both got into AMYA they were both labeled High Risk by both ASD and the SOA evaluation staff

      What is the AMYA Mission:
      “To help intervene in and reclaim the lives of at-risk youth and produce program graduates with the values, skills, education, and self-discipline to succeed as adults.

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