22nd Alaska State Legislature
News from the House Majority

 
Image of Alaska's State Capital Building Dan Saddler, Press Secretary
State Capitol, Room 413
Juneau, AK 99801-1182
Phone: (907) 465-3804
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Operating Budget Passes House
Legislators Speak on Process
Product in Comments from Floor

For Immediate Release:


March 14, 2001

Contact:


Dan Saddler, House Majority Press Secretary, at (907) 465-3804

(JUNEAU) - The proposed state operating budget passed today by the House of Representatives sustains most state services at current levels, while including increases in critical areas such as education, public health, and the University of Alaska, House leaders said.

Before passing House Bills 103 and 104, the vehicles for the Fiscal Year 2002 state operating budget, members engaged in far-ranging discussion on the $4.63 billion budget and the process the House followed in crafting a spending plan to allocate limited state resources for state government services. The following is a selection of comments legislators made from the floor before casting final votes to pass the budget:

"We have displayed austerity for the past five years, and even in this budget. It is not everything that everybody wants it to be. But because of that, we're not broke. We have options. We have the time to put forward sound thinking and a sound process in the development of a long-range financial plan. And I'm confident we're going to do that. But we only have that ability because we have shown fiscal restraint and responsibility. It was a bipartisan effort. I appreciate that. It has produced good results for us. I think the constituents around the state of Alaska have appreciated that and I think, Mr. Speaker, that we've done the responsible thing once again within this budget."

-- Rep. Eldon Mulder (R-Anchorage), House Finance co-chair

"The process, in my view, works. It is admittedly cumbersome, and I don't mind that because that provides for input and opportunity for change where change is necessary. We have to have a starting point and we have to have a goal, or we will have 40 budgets and I don't think that's the goal of the House, so I support the budget that we've created here."

-- Rep. Con Bunde, (R-Anchorage), House Finance Committee vice-chair

"When we first realized several years ago that we were spending too much money out of our savings account, that our recurring revenues were going down while our costs were going up ... which is precisely where we are today."

-- Rep. Bill Hudson, member, House Finance Committee

"There are those who would argue that we can't cut our way out of trouble. Some of our colleagues in the Majority would agree with that. I agree. We can't cut ourselves to safety, but we can certainly spend ourselves into oblivion.

-- Rep. Joe Green (R-Anchorage)

"This is a fairly good budget process that we went through. I thought we all acted very responsible, reasonable and statesmanlike. We only had eight amendments, but I think the first year I was here we had 180, and it lasted from 10 in the morning one day until seven in the morning the next. I think everybody here wants to do something probably about the alcohol tax. I don't know how I feel about it yet because we haven't gone through the public process. We haven't talked about how the public feels about an alcohol tax."

-- Rep. Bill Williams (R-Saxman) House Finance Committee co-chair

"The budget was a moving target. It was an amoeba that kept being changed and massaged and moved, and finally we came up with what we truly believe is the maximum we can afford. Now, sure, we could increase it a little bit more with a two or three hundred million sales tax, or a two or three hundred million personal income tax and those kinds of things, but what would that do? It would say, 'O.K., we'll raise the budget, and we'll spend that money, and then we're going to be right back in the same fix next year or the year after that, saying we need more money.' We cannot continue to do that."

-- Rep. Joe Green (R-Anchorage)

"The net result of those factors is that we're $34 million above where we started this year. For some that is a lot, almost more than they want to swallow. On the other hand, we're $60 million below what the governor requested. The result of that obviously would be the fact that our draw on the CBR (Constitutional Budget Reserve) is substantially less than what the governor projected, well below the $530 million that he projected. So Mr. Speaker I think we've done a reasonable and responsible job within this budget."

-- Rep. Eldon Mulder (R-Anchorage), House Finance Committee co-chair

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Attachments:

Broadcasters Note: Audio comments are available on the Majority Actuality line:
1-800-478-6540 or below.

= Eldon Mulder, 103 K = Bill Williams, 81 K
= Con Bunde, 54 K = Bill Hudson, 29 K
= Joe Green, 73 K = Joe Green, 26 K
= Eldon Mulder, 79 K

| Rep. Mulder's Page | Rep. William's Page |
| Rep. Bunde's Page | Rep. Hudson's Page |
| Rep. Green's Page |

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Departmental Highlights

Department of Administration

The mission of the Department of Administration is to (1) provide centralized management and technology services to state agencies; (2) provide legal and advocacy services for indigent Alaskans; (3) provide programs that promote the independence of Alaska's seniors; (4) provide vehicle licensing and registration. The budget passed by the House Finance Committee:

  • Doubles funding for Alaska's radio reading service for the blind and visually impaired to $150,000 per year
  • Adds $650,000 in new funds to prepare for natural disaster by beefing up the state's emergency communications system
  • Improves care for senior citizens in assisted living homes by increasing the state rate of payment to such homes
  • Provides $53.6 million to continue the Longevity Bonus program to benefit senior citizens
  • Supports Alaska Pioneers Homes with $21.2 million, including $745,000 for additional staff nurses

Department of Community and Economic Development

The mission of the Department of Community and Economic Development is to promote independent communities and economic development in Alaska. The budget passed by the House Finance Committee:

  • Adds $11.5 million to help the Alaska Aerospace Development Corporation maintain its ability to build the state's commercial satellite launch capability
  • Encourages technological innovations by Alaska with $10.5million for the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation
  • Provides $28.5 million in municipal revenue sharing to help communities pay the costs of local government

Department of Corrections

The mission of the Department of Corrections is to protect the public by confining, supervising, and rehabilitating offenders under the custody of the department. The budget passed by the House Finance Committee:

  • Helps fight alcohol and drug abuse by funding a new substance abuse assessment specialist
  • Invests more than $3 million in a new 400-bed jail in Anchorage, to help reduce transportation and other costs of holding Alaska prisoners in facilities scattered around the state or in Arizona

Court System

The mission of the Alaska Court System is to provide an accessible and impartial forum for the just resolution of all cases that come before it,and to decide such cases in accordance with the law, expeditiously and withintegrity. The budget passed by the House Finance Committee:

  • Supports innovative ways to combat drug abuse, by authorizing $216,000 in federal funds to continue the Anchorage Drug Court pilot program
  • Establishes a center to help citizens handle simple family law matters on their own, avoiding unnecessary and costly legal fees

Department of Education and Early Development

The mission of the Department of Education and Early Development is to support the development of lifelong learners. The budget passed by the House Finance Committee:

  • Increases total state education funding by $18.6 million
  • Supports K-12 schools statewide by fully funding the state foundation formula at $671 million
  • Provides $6.2 million in Learning Opportunity Grants aimed at helping students prepare for high school competency exams
  • Increases the Child Care Development Fund by $1.7 million
  • Adds $2 million to the Child Care Quality Initiative
  • Improves families' access to decent child care by boosting child care subsidies by $3 million
  • Provides an extra $200,000 to Mount Edgecumbe Boarding School to fund dormitory services and other contracts
  • Combats child abuse by funding $100,000 in new abuse prevention grants
  • Increases state support for school busing services to 97 percent

Department of Environmental Conservation

The mission of the Department of Environmental Conservation is to protect human health and the environment. The budget passed by the House Finance Committee:

  • Directs $554,000 in federal funds to high-priority water quality needs
  • Adds $500,000 in oil and hazardous materials funds to oversee environmental and community commitments, as outline in the agreement under which British Petroleum purchased a portion of Arco Alaska.
  • Improves village public health by directing $165,100 to train operators of small drinking water systems
  • Allocates $400,000 to fund the Aleutian/Pribilof remote sewer and water system maintenance worker program
  • Improved public health with the addition of $221,000 in state funds to hire three new restaurant and food safety inspectors

Department of Fish and Game

The mission of the Department of Fish and Game is to protect, maintain, and improve the fish, game, and aquatic plant resources of the state, and manage their use and development in the best interest of the economy and the well-being of the people of the state, consistent with the sustained yield principle. The budget passed by the House Finance Committee:

  • Redirects funding to keep a state biologist working at the Kenai River Center to make it easier for residents to obtain state permits
  • Increases efficiency by merging certain permitting and habitat restoration functions into a single component
  • Devotes $1.2 million in federal funds for Steller sea lion and harbor seal research, $1 million to fund federal subsistence projects, and an additional $1 million for other fishery research efforts

Department of Health and Social Services

The mission of the Department of Health and Social Services is to promote and protect the health and well being of Alaskans. The budget passed by the House Finance Committee:

  • Captures the maximum possible amount of federal matching dollars
  • Strengthens the department's capacity to investigate welfare fraud
  • Helps more children find permanent homes, by devoting $2.76 million to subsidized adoptions
  • Uses $24.1 million in state general funds to leverage $50.4 million in federal medical services funds
  • Addresses higher energy costs by increasing energy assistance programs by $6.5 million
  • Meets expanding needs for Adult Public Assistance with a $630,000 increase
  • Expands Public Assistance services by $1.5 million for child care benefits and $1.9 million in work services

Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

The mission of the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs is to: (1) provide military forces capable of ready operations; (2) provide for an organized response during emergencies and disasters; (3) train at-risk juveniles; (4) coordinate veterans' programs; and (5) assist agencies in suppressing illegal drugs. The budget passed by the House Finance Committee:

  • Expands emergency response capability with $200,000 to allow 24-hour staffing of the Emergency Coordination Center
  • Provides nearly $200,000 for the Alaska Military Youth Academy to help at-risk youth
  • Funds a National Missile Defense System coordinator, who could help secure a project that could bring Alaska as many as 700 National Guard-related jobs
  • Helps the state veterans outreach program identify and secure $27.5 million in federal assistance for veterans

Department of Natural Resources

The mission of the Department of Natural Resources is to provide for the utilization, development, and conservation of all natural resources in the state for the maximum benefit of present and future Alaskans. The budget passed by the House Finance Committee:

  • Directs $400,000 to the Division of Oil and Gas to maintain a competitive leasing program and ensure the state receives proper royalties from oil and gas production
  • Adds $300,000 for the state residential and commercial water use permitting adjudication
  • Directs $248,000 from the state land disposal income fund to help survey new subdivisions and facilitate sale of state lands to private individuals
  • Dedicates $425,000 for salary increases to recruit and retain key employees in the Division of Oil and Gas to protect revenue streams into the General Fund and Permanent Fund
  • Supports the timber industry by reinvesting $280,000 in timber sale receipts into value-added timber sales, reforestation and forest access efforts

Department of Public Safety

The mission of the Department of Public Safety is to ensure public safety and enforce fish and wildlife laws. The budget passed by the House Finance Committee:

  • Adds $480,000 in state funds for new fish and wildlife officer and State Trooper positions
  • Funds five new trooper positions with $1.4 million in federal alcohol interdiction funds
  • Provides $250,000 in additional forensic services support for the state crime lab
  • Maintains strong support for victims services, including batterers intervention, violent crimes compensation programs and sexual assault and domestic violence prevention
  • Dedicates $170,000 to repair trooper vehicles and aircraft

Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

The mission of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is to develop, operate, maintain, and manage facilities, vehicles, and transportation modes. The budget passed by the House Finance Committee:

  • Increases the department's total spending authorization by $5.4 million, for a total of $327.5 million
  • Directs $879,800 to the Alaska Marine Highway System to cover its increased fuel costs, and maintain a full schedule of service to Southeast Alaska's residents and visitors
  • Adds $2.2 million overall statewide for highway and airport maintenance, including $175,000 to cover increased costs for contract maintenance of rural airports

University of Alaska

The mission of the University of Alaska is to ensure the best opportunity for Alaskans of all ages to be successful, productive, and contributing members of society by fostering and promoting (1) the highest quality postsecondary educational system; (2) vocational development and training; (3) advancement and extension of knowledge, learning, and culture; and (4) the application of new knowledge to state needs. The budget passed by the House Finance Committee:

  • Approves a budget of $548 million to ensure the University can continue to produce a skilled work force and develop new knowledge, fulfilling its role as the engine of Alaska's economy
  • Increases basic state funding for the University by more than $9 million
  • Ensures the University will continue to benefit from last year's budget increases, by replacing one-time funds with continuing funding sources

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