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Tuesday, June 22, 2021
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Supplemental budget includes COVID funds

The Alaska Senate has passed House Bill 234, the largest supplemental budget in Alaska history, at $612 million. The bill includes more community assistance funding: $33.5 million in relief, in addition to the $14.1 million already appropriated to help communities mitigate the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.

The bill passed unanimously, 16-0.

Details of the package, which were requested by the governor: 

  • $8.5 million in grants to municipalities for COVID-19-related commercial passenger vessel operations;
  • $5.5 million for medical and protective equipment, including testing supplies;
  • $3.5 million for transportation to housing for medical assistance;
  • $2.5 million for housing individuals under quarantine;
  • $1.5 million for the state epidemiology lab for IT systems related to testing;
  • $1.5 million for personnel including lab, support, emergency operations, and 24-hour
  • facility staff; and
  • $500,000 for public distribution of vital health recommendations and information.

The bill also provides funding for last year’s unpaid wildfire and healthcare costs:

  • $142 million in state funds and $160 million in federal funds for Medicaid services, including $8.3 million to restore the Adult Preventive Dental Program;
  • $110.5 million for wildland firefighting costs incurred last summer and fall;
  • $8.6 million to restore Adult Public Assistance.
  • $7.1 million for the Alaska Marine Highway System.
  • $6.7 million for the Department of Public Safety to address a shortfall within the Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers due to a lower than expected vacancy rate;
  • $6 million to help the Alaska Psychiatric Institute increase its capacity;
  • $3 million to address severe damage caused in Anchorage, Kenai, and Mat-Su by the December 2018 earthquake.

Anchorage will get an additional $4.5 million,

The bill, which originated in the House, needs concurrence from the House before it goes to the governor’s desk for approval.

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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.

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