Capitol Live: Senate proposes spending cap

Capitol Live: Senate proposes spending cap

Live updates from inside the Capitol.

11:50 a.m.

The Senate Finance Committee introduced two bills that would cap government spending and establish a 50-50 split between dividends and state expenses from the earnings reserve of the Permanent Fund.

Senate Bill 104 would cap government spending at $5 billion for the 2021 fiscal year.

“A spending cap gives the Legislature the discipline it needs to keep state spending at a reasonable level from one year to the next,” said Senator Natasha von Imhof, R-Anchorage, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

Senate Bill 103 splits revenue from the annual draw of the Permanent Fund’s earnings reserve equally between dividends and state expenses.

“The Senate is committed to protecting the Permanent Fund and dividends for future generations of Alaskans,” said Senator Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “SB 103 creates a revenue limit for government and ensures the dividend program survives by protecting it from being consumed by the operating budget. It draws a line in the sand beyond which the state cannot cross over and take from the dividend.”

Under a 50-50 split, eligible Alaskans would receive approximately $2,340 in their PFD, according to a presentation to the Senate Finance Committee last week.

SB 103 and SB 104 were referred to the Senate Finance Committee where a hearing is scheduled for both bills on Wednesday, April 10.

— Alex McCarthy

11:10 a.m.

Rep Dan Ortiz, I-Ketchikan, proposes a bill on the floor that would close a loophole related to ATM transactions. Ortiz, co-chair of the Finance Committee, makes a little quip as he speaks.

“I’d say that it’s a simple bill but there’s not even a simple amendment, as I’ve learned in the past couple days,” Ortiz says.

The Finance Committee was apparently in session until around 11 p.m. last night. There’s always an insane amount of coffee consumed in this building, but I imagine there’s even more today.

— Alex McCarthy

10:15 a.m.

The House Finance meeting for this morning was canceled. Floor sessions for both House and Senate are coming up in a few minutes. The Senate Finance Committee has been meeting this morning, talking extensively about deferred maintenance in the state.

— Alex McCarthy

8:45 a.m.

The House Finance Committee will continue to grind away at the operating budget today. Just like yesterday, it has meetings scheduled for 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. It’s a bit of a Friday tradition for lawmakers to head to the airport in the early afternoon (or even earlier) to catch flights home, but perhaps the members of the committee are going to be sticking around for the afternoon today.

Our story from yesterday’s meetings focused on the Ocean Ranger program, which the representatives voted to defund. But does doing that actually save the state money? We delved into the confusing funding situation around the program in our piece here.

One more news item to look for today: There will be a rally at noon at the Capitol to raise awareness for child abuse and neglect. We’ll be there, but you can read more about it here.

— Alex McCarthy

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