"The $600 million meets our goal of trying to save about half of the surplus. The rest of the savings, whatever may be left at the end of the fiscal year on June 30th, will also be swept into the public education fund."
- Rep. Meyer
(JUNEAU) - The House Finance Committee has been hard at work on the Budgets. The Fast Track Supplemental Appropriations bill, SB 232, passed out of Committee on Wednesday, March 22.
In response to the Majority Caucus' desire to set aside a portion of the state's surplus, the bill includes a provision that would save $600 million. The bill would place $300 million in the public education fund for future education needs and $300 million in a sub-corporation within the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation for future capital projects across Alaska.
Representative Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski), Co-Chair of the House Finance Committee said, "What we actually did was move $600 million of the FY06 surplus into those accounts to get it off the table so we're not tempted to spend it, while at the same time putting money into savings. We're trying to develop a sustainable budget and still meet the needs of the people of Alaska."
"The $600 million meets our goal of trying to save about half of the surplus. The rest of the savings, whatever may be left at the end of the fiscal year on June 30th, will also be swept into the public education fund. That is estimated to be approximately $80 million which would get us to our goal of half the projected surplus," said House Finance Committee Co-Chair Representative Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage).
Additionally, the bill includes $12.7 million for the Alaska Marine Highway System and $10.1 million to help rebuild the White Mountain School, which burned earlier this year. The bill was amended by Representative Bill Stoltze (R-Chugiak/Mat-Su) to include $3.8 million for the Su Valley School roof.
The Finance Committee Subsititute for the Fast Track Supplemental Appropriations bill passed the House Floor on March 27th.
The Finance Committee also passed out the committee substitute for the Operating Budget on Thursday, March 23rd. The committee reduced the Governor's request by over $120 million in general funds. The Finance Subcommittees looked at the Governor's budget and were very cautious about funding new or expanded programs or backfilling programs experiencing a loss of federal funds.
The budget includes $146 million to fully fund Medicaid Growth, $1.3 million for the Narcotics Task Force and $7 million for Developmental Disability Waivers.
"The executive branch had the opportunity to present and defend their budget for each department through the subcommittee process. In addition, we heard from over 200 Alaskans during three days of public testimony," said Representative Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski). "The subcommittees and now the full committee have made very hard choices in an effort to maintain a sustainable budget for Alaska. The Governor sent us an unsustainable budget and we are trying to act responsibly for our future. There are too many unknowns, including the price of oil, and the Governor set the bar too high."
"We want to slow the rate of increase to the budget to make sure that we can sustain these budgets into the future. It's our job to make sure we have the most efficient and effective government possible while making the necessary investments into programs that Alaskans need," said Representative Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage).
The Operating Budget will be before the full House this week.
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"The Governor sent us an unsustainable budget and we are trying to act responsibly for our future."