Juneau -- The Senate Majority Thursday unveiled a proposal to allow Alaskans to express their opinions on Alaska's financial future through an advisory vote. Senate Bill 76 authorizes a fall 1999 advisory vote that allows Alaskans the opportunity to vote on a long-term fiscal plan to address the state's $1 billion fiscal gap.
"The primary consideration for the Senate is that the public be involved in deciding Alaska's future," said Senate Finance Co-Chair Senator Sean Parnell (R-Anchorage). "We want to make sure any long-term fiscal plan that requires use of the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve goes to a vote of the people before becoming law," he said.
The Senate Finance Committee also unveiled details of the Balanced Budget Plan, the Senate Majority's long-term fiscal plan.
"Any plan must preserve, protect and grow the Permanent Fund over the long haul," said Senator John Torgerson (R-Kasilof), Co-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. "Our plan does all that, while also guaranteeing dividends. We're going to guarantee dividends, we are not guaranteeing or endowing government," he said.
"It's important that people realize, that given the decline in oil revenues and production, if we do nothing the dividend program could all but disappear in approximately 7 to 10 years," said Parnell. "Doing nothing is not an option."
While crafting its Balanced Budget Plan, the Senate Majority kept its focus on several "Guiding Principles." Any long-term financial plan must:
"It's vital that Alaskans be involved in the long-range budget process. The decisions we make on balancing the state's budget will affect the state for many years to come," said Parnell.
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