Juneau -- Starting Tuesday, March 23, the Senate Finance Committee will begin hearing from Alaskan individuals and organizations on how to develop a balanced budget plan that will restore Alaska's fiscal health.
"The Senate Finance Committee has been working on budget matters since Day One, holding fiscal planning discussions in more than 28 separate meetings," said Senate Finance Committee Co-Chair Senator Parnell said. "Now we will lay some plans on the table and put them to the test."
The hearings will include presentations from international petroleum market analysts, public policy organizations, private business organizations, fiscal analysts and individual Alaskans. They will focus on plans to overcome the gap between state income and expenditures, estimated at $1.2 billion in FY 2000.
"Now is the time for us to draw on the energy and ideas of Alaskans," said Senator John Torgerson, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. We have a common problem, and we're opening up our committee to find a solution that all Alaskans can support."
The two weeks of hearings will address questions such as:
Tuesday - 8:30-10:30 a.m.: How Much Oil Revenue Will Alaska Have?
The Cambridge Energy Group will present its spring forecast of world oil markets and revenues Alaska can expect in the 12 months ahead. They will offer special insight into how the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' recently announced voluntary production limits will affect Alaska's financial future.
Wednesday - 9-10 a.m.: What Constitutes a Realistic Fiscal Plan?
The Legislative Finance Division will lead a presentation on financial modeling methods, and will help the committee define the criteria needed to evaluate long-range plan proposals. Discussions will include assumptions regarding inflation, earnings on state savings accounts, and what effect reductions in government spending would have on the long-range budget picture.
Wednesday - 10-11 a.m.: What Does the Private Sector Propose?
Various public interest groups will present their plans on how best to address the budget gap. These will include the Fiscal Policy Council, the Resource Development Council, the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, and the Alaska General Contractors.
Thursday - 9-10 a.m.: Sustainability: What it Means, How to Get There?
The committee will discuss principles of managing investments as endowments spinning off sustainable annuities. Such a management regimen might ensure future generations of Alaskans would continue to receive the same benefit from Alaska's savings accounts as current Alaskans.
Thursday - 10-11 a.m.: How Does the University Endowment Work?
University of Alaska Foundation Treasurer Jim Lynch will detail the workings of the University's endowment, and how proceeds from the endowment help provide a sustainable revenue stream to the statewide university system.
Friday - 9-11 a.m.: What Plans Have Alaskans Offered?
The Senate Finance Committee meetings will take the form of open forums where members of the public will be welcomed to present their own plans for how to address their state's budget challenges.
April 1 and later: What Plans Will Alaskans Accept?
The Finance Committee will draw on the information presented to begin hammering out a plan that a majority of Alaskans will support to establish a sustainable balanced budget.
Gavel-to-Gavel is scheduled to provide coverage of the hearings, which convene in Room 518 of the Alaska State Capitol.