22nd Alaska State Legislature
Operating Budget Passes House
(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."
"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."
"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."
"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.
"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."
"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."
"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."
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Audio comments are available on the Majority Actuality line:
= Con Bunde, 54 K = Bill Hudson, 29 K
= Joe Green, 73 K = Joe Green, 26 K
= Eldon Mulder, 79 K
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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