Sunday, October 1, 2023
HomePoliticsSenate passes operating budget with money for Nome, Anchorage, Mat-Su ports, and...

Senate passes operating budget with money for Nome, Anchorage, Mat-Su ports, and $5,500 for Alaskans

On a vote of 12-7, the Alaska Senate passed the largest Permanent Fund dividend in history today in the operating budget. The budget, which started in the House, has $400 million in amendments, a full statutory Permanent Fund dividend, and an energy assistance check for Alaskans. Between those two checks, it’s a life-transforming $5,500 in payments to eligible Alaskans — if the House of Representatives agrees.

Read the budget summary here.

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The House will now take a look at the additions to the budget and either accept it or reject it. If rejected, it would go to a conference committee to negotiate a middle ground.

But it all may come down to abortion. The $5,500 PFD-energy payment hinges on a few key house votes in the House. Members like Rep. David Eastman and Rep. Chris Kurka of Wasilla may not vote to concur with the budget due to a minor Medicaid abortion provision.

A majority vote to not concur would bounce the entire budget into conference committee, where the $5,500 PFD would be pared down significantly.

Voting against the Senate version of the budget were Senate Democrats Tom Begich, Lyman Hoffman, and Jesse Kiehl, along with Republicans Josh Revak and Natasha Von Imhof, who was livid about the large payout to Alaskans

The Senate budget has $280 million for big projects, including $100 million for repairs to the Port of Alaska in Anchorage, and $150 million for the expansion of the Port of Nome. Another $30 million was budgeted for finishing access to Port MacKenzie in the Mat-Su Borough. There is no “forward funding” for education in this budget.

“For once this budget prioritizes the people over the government,” said Sen. Mike Shower, who introduced several amendments and who advocated for the statutory PFD. “We also prioritized infrastructure we are a decade behind in, turning money into concrete and steel. Everything is fully funded. Don’t believe the lies — all agencies are fully funded. We actually still have money available in the SBR (Statutory Budget Reserve).”

Also today, Sen. Bert Stedman and Sen. Click Bishop voted with the majority of the Senate to roll Sen. Josh Revak, who chairs the Natural Resources Committee. On a vote of 12-8, the majority bounced a top Democrat’s bill out of Revak’s committee — a bill that Revak had been sitting on for without having a hearing in more than a year. SB 207, sponsored by Sen. Bill Wielechowski, would reduce oil and gas tax credits; it has now reached its last committee of referral: Finance.

Earlier this month, Revak led a coup against a Committee Chair Mia Costello to pull a bill from her committee, where she had taken no action on HB 55, a bill to increase union pension costs in Alaska. But today, Costello took the high road and voted against rolling Revak in the way he had rolled her as chair of Senate Labor and Commerce just days prior.

Read the details of SB 107 here.

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
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.


  1. Technical correction: The oil and gas tax bill is SB 107. It makes key tax filings public, sets up a new, higher, oil tax rate that increases as the price of oil increases. Lots more. It is a 45 page bill, no hearings, no amendments, no fiscal note. All of which will take place in Sen Finance?
    How a bill of this magnitude will be able to pass the House as well is going to be interesting to watch. How it affects Alaska’s only industry – the one that pays all the bills – probably makes it a critical and defining point for this Legislature.

  2. Leave it to Eastman and Kurka to vote no. They vote no on everything. The two most ineffective legislators that waste every one’s time and get nothing done.

  3. “Life Transforming” only refers to a huge PFD, but not the free-flow of Federal stimulus? We have already been transformed into something that I don’t like.

    • So then stop volunteering to receive a dividend check. Nobody’s forcing you, if you don’t want, need or could utilize the dinero………stop taking it. There will be more for those of who count on it.

  4. Von Imhof — Born with a silver spoon in her mouth will never understand those of us who are lucky to get a plastic ‘Spork’ with our ‘past-the-pull-date’ mark down food we can still barely afford. Such a spoiled brat to deny Alaskan’s what is rightfully ours as the State rakes in oil revenue.

  5. Congratulations to our oath takers amazing of the people by the people for the people to see oath integrity come to life has me rejoicing like miracle stuff here for all Alaskans. Oath integrity citizens can you all imagine this accomplishment here miracle stuff. All oath takers thank you for this pick us up here love.

  6. If it all rests on the abortion issue, then we know those who believe in murder will KILL the chance of getting the amount they say we will get. Abortion is a separate issue, deal with it as one.

  7. “Life Transforming” only in the head of Princess hissy-fit, or if you are speaking in terms of pre-Biden dollars…

  8. Is must read Alaska promoting Lisa Murkowski? Why do I see her advertisement in this article?

  9. If Senator Von Entitlement is against it, I suspect the better place to be is to be in favor of it. Just a rule of thumb. She can fly home on her jet in a few days.

  10. Hey, its not like we don’t have the money, the Permanent Fund has been making money the past five years. The earnings from the Fund are there for the people of Alaska (75%) and then the State government (25%). We just have the mindset in Juneau where they believe it is their money to spend on boondoggles and special interest groups instead of dividends. Here is a 1,000 or 2,000 dollars for your troubles and we keep the rest. It is an election year so maybe they have a very temporary self-serving interest to be re-elected. NAH.

  11. Great job, Sen. Shower, let’s see what the house does and if it does get knocked down we just may see a lot of angry citizens, a lot. Lots of petty shenanigans going on internally too it appears and only because special interests are in someone’s back pocket.

  12. Wow. A bunch of “fiscal conservatives” voting for probably one of the largest budgets in history. Where are the real fiscal conservatives?

    • There are no real conservatives anymore. The US Congress has augured us into the ground with deficit spending. And here in Alaska, the “conservatives” hold out for a bigger Socialist Stipend while letting our vital infrastructure go begging.

  13. Yes, give Alaskans the big PFD. God knows oil revenue is up with the inflation. Follow the PFD formula that’s been in place for decades. It’s not socialism, it’s not from our tax dollars.

  14. ChrissyB: “In times of inflationary recession you don’t pour more big government fiat bucks into the economy.”
    Chrissy that was the only thing you got right.
    I doubt you know as much about “economics” as you think.

  15. Can you imagine the public furor when the House/Senate compromise is for the 1300/1300 plan?
    The Senate has done a cynical disservice to the State.
    Incredibly irresponsible!

  16. Well it looks like Speaker Stutes did what she does best, Call an At Ease or Adjourn the session.

  17. 30 more million dollars for a port that has not generated 30 million in revenue in more than 20 years. Who votes for this —-. Politics as usual for the mat-su conservatives.

  18. Why waste money on port mackinzie? To much current to tie big ships there, not enough infastructure for shipping goods from there. No cranes for loadung unloading containers, imagine 500 plus trucks a day on the road heading back and forth to wasilla and anchorage. Crazy.

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