Rep. Genevieve Mina, D-Anchorage, stares at a pile stack of budget amendments on Tuesday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Rep. Genevieve Mina, D-Anchorage, stares at a pile stack of budget amendments on Tuesday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska House digs into budget — and a developing gap between expenses and revenue

Financial estimates show may not be enough revenue to cover the Legislature’s draft spending plan.

As the Alaska House of Representatives opened debate on the state operating budget Tuesday, financial experts away from the House floor were calculating that the draft spending plan under discussion may not be affordable.

The operating budget, which will pay for state services for 12 months starting July 1, clocks in at $6 billion, excluding federally funded and fee-funded programs. The state’s capital budget, which covers construction and renovation projects, is expected to be another $550 million. Other legislation, labor contracts under negotiation, and additional items are expected to add at least $100 million more.

Altogether, the total is more than the state’s expected general-purpose revenue from investments, oil and other taxes.

“The question’s going to be: Where’s that money going to come from?” said Rep. Dan Ortiz, I-Ketchikan. “Without added revenue, it’s probably going to come from the PFD.”

But on Tuesday, legislators declined to make any changes to their draft plan for the 2024 Permanent Fund dividend — a $2,270 payout that would be the largest single item in the budget.

Members of the House voted down amendments from Ortiz and Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, that would have reduced the planned payout.

Members of the House also declined to make significant additions to the budget, voting down amendments that would have increased a $175 million funding bonus for K-12 public schools.

There’s general agreement in the House that Gov. Mike Dunleavy would use his line-item veto powers to reduce or eliminate any bonus, just as he vetoed a multipart education bill that included a permanent funding increase.

“A lot of this is symbolic,” said House Minority Leader Calvin Schrage, I-Anchorage. “If the number is going to get changed by someone else later on, why don’t we stand up for the number we believe in?”

Despite his plea, the education amendments were rejected, as were requests for additional funding to the state’s seafood-marketing and tourism-marketing organizations.

The only changes approved by the House before a break for dinner on Tuesday were the addition of $300,000 in funding for Alaska’s team to the Arctic Winter Games and a cost-free amendment requiring that an Anchorage homeless shelter be placed at the center of a drug-free zone.

Earlier this year, at the urging of the House, legislators from both House and Senate agreed to a strict timeline for budget work.

Using that timeline, they set the amount of this year’s capital budget at $550 million last week, before the House began amendment work on the operating budget.

The capital budget pays for construction and renovation projects statewide, and the capital budget figure hasn’t been publicly announced but was confirmed by legislators and staff involved in the discussions.

That figure, plus the $6 billion cost of the current operating budget and at least $100 million for newly passed legislation, is more than the state expects to receive in revenue during the upcoming fiscal year.

The gap, according to preliminary estimates available from the Senate on Tuesday, is $276 million.

Senators declined to share the document they were working with and have scheduled a news conference Wednesday. They are expected to discuss the capital budget at that time.

Members of the House disagreed with the Senate estimate and said they believe the figure is lower, but House Finance co-chairs Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham and DeLena Johnson, R-Palmer each declined to share their alternative on Tuesday.

• James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. This article originally appeared online at alaskabeacon.com. Alaska Beacon, an affiliate of States Newsroom, is an independent, nonpartisan news organization focused on connecting Alaskans to their state government.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Mayor Beth Weldon (left), Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Juneau Assembly member Paul Kelly discussion proposals for next year’s mill rate during an Assembly Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members support lower 10.04 mill rate ahead of final vote on next year’s CBJ budget

Initial proposal called for raising current rate of 10.16 mills to 10.32 mills.

Dave Scanlan, general manager of Eaglecrest Ski Area, speaks to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee on April 13, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Dave Scanlan forced out as Eaglecrest’s general manager, says decision ‘came as a complete shock to me’

Resort’s leader for past 7 years says board seeking a “more office-process, paper-oriented” manager.

The entrance to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s Anchorage office is seen on Aug. 11, 2023. The state-owned AGDC is pushing for a massive project that would ship natural gas south from the North Slope, liquefy it and send it on tankers from Cook Inlet to Asian markets. The AGDC proposal is among many that have been raised since the 1970s to try commercialize the North Slope’s stranded natural gas. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Eight young Alaskans sue to block proposed trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline

Plaintiffs cite climate change that harms their access to fish, wildlife and natural resources.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, May 21, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read