Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, chair of the bicameral conference committee tasked with hammering out differences in the state’s budget bill, signs the committee report as members finished their work on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire

Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, chair of the bicameral conference committee tasked with hammering out differences in the state’s budget bill, signs the committee report as members finished their work on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire

Committee compromises on PFD in budget plan

Budget must be approved by full Legislature

For the second day running, the six-member bicameral conference committee continued negotiations on the state’s budget and Tuesday afternoon came to an agreement on an amount for the Permanent Fund Dividend.

Members of the conference committee agreed Tuesday to an amendment to the budget that would pay about $2,500 for this year’s dividend, with an additional $1,300 energy relief payment for a total of about $3,800.

The Senate appropriated $5,500, a combination of a statutory dividend of $4,200 and an energy relief check of $1,300, but several lawmakers called that amount irresponsible and a concurrence vote failed in the House of Representatives.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, a member of the conference committee who voted for the full dividend said he was supporting the lower amount in the spirit of compromise.

“I know many Alaskans would like to see a full PFD,” Wielechowski said. “This is 90% of a full PFD.”

[Senate effectively kills restrictive transgender sports bill]

Committee members also split the fund sources for those two payments, with the dividend coming from the state’s general fund and half the $1,300 payment coming from the Constitutional Budget Reserve. In order to access the CBR, lawmakers need a three-quarter vote in both bodies, which is not a guarantee, particularly in the deeply divided House where the majority coalition has only 21 members.

The committee agreed to most of the Senate’s appropriations in the capital budget and moved quickly through hundreds of budget items. The committee approved several appropriations which only go into effect if related legislation is passed. The committee agreed to the Senate’s proposal to add $394 million to the state’s Higher Education Investment Fund, if House Bill 322, establishing the fund on its own, is passed.

The end of the legislative session is Wednesday, May 18, and both bodies of the Legislature must approve the committee changes if the budget is to be adopted. Only a simple majority vote in each body is needed to pass a conference committee budget.

The conference committee finalized the budget process shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday, sending the bill to the Division of Legislative Finance and Legislative Legal Services for review and any technical changes. Once that process is complete, lawmakers will vote to move the bill which must then wait for 24 hours.

“We’ll be here until midnight, maybe later,” Stedman told reporters following the committee meeting. “Tomorrow midnight is the deadline. We have to pass a budget by midnight tomorrow, if it’s not passed we’ll have a special session, be here in June.”

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Students leave the Marie Drake Building, which houses local alternative education offerings including the HomeBRIDGE correspondence program, on April 4. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Educators and lawmakers trying to determine impacts, next steps of ruling denying state funds for homeschoolers

“Everybody wants to make sure there’s a way to continue supporting homeschool families,” Kiehl says.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, April 14, 2024

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

TJ Beers holds a sign to advocate for the rights of people experiencing homelessness outside the state Capitol on April 9. Beers was homeless for four years and in three states. “I don’t know how I survived,” he said. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Lawmakers weigh whether to reduce or acknowledge rights of growing Alaska homeless population

As cities try to house people, Dunleavy’s protest bill would further criminalize them, advocates say.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, April 13, 2024

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, April 12, 2024

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, April 11, 2024

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

The sky and mountains are reflected in the water on April 5, 2012, at the Kootznoowoo Wilderness in the Tongass National Forest’s Admiralty Island National Monument. Conservation organizations bought some private land and transferred it to the U.S. Forest Service, resulting in an incremental expansion of the Kootznoowoo Wilderness and protection of habitat important to salmon and wildlife. (Photo by Don MacDougall/U.S. Forest Service)
Conservation groups’ purchase preserves additional land in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

A designated wilderness area in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the largest… Continue reading

A welcome sign is shown Sept. 22, 2021, in Tok. President Joe Biden won Alaska’s nominating contest on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Biden wins more delegates in Alaska and Wyoming as he heads toward Democratic nomination

President Joe Biden nudged further ahead in the Democratic nomination for reelection… Continue reading

Most Read