Gavel (Courtesy photo)

Judge orders release of Power Cost Equalization funds

Superior court judge bars state from sweeping the nearly $1.2 billion PCE Fund.

A state court judge on Wednesday sided with a coalition that includes the Alaska Federation of Natives and electric cooperatives that sued Gov. Mike Dunleavy to force the release of money intended to help lower rural utility costs.

Superior Court Judge Josie Garton barred the state from sweeping the nearly $1.2 billion Power Cost Equalization Endowment Fund into a budget reserve account and ordered the distribution of program funds that had been appropriated by lawmakers but were also held up amid the dispute.

The Alaska Department of Law was reviewing the ruling.

Under the state constitution, money taken from the constitutional budget reserve is to be repaid. Dunleavy’s administration in 2019 found the Power Cost Equalization fund was among the pots of money subject to being swept into the reserve at the end of a fiscal year.

A legislative attorney has said the sweep happens automatically. Action to reverse it and return funds to their original accounts requires three-fourths support in each the House and Senate. Lawmakers have previously supported doing this, including in 2019.

This year, however, lawmakers failed to garner the required support.

The lawsuit said the administration took a more expansive view of accounts subject to being swept into the budget reserve than prior administrations.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 8

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

Juneau Assembly members and other visitors examine a meeting room formerly used by the nine-member Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development on Monday, April 8, which is about 25% larger than the Assembly Chambers at City Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Of three possible new City Hall buildings, one stands out — but plenty of proposed uses for other two

Michael J. Burns Building eyed as city HQ; childcare, animal shelter among options at school sites.

Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, speaks to members of the Senate majority caucus’ leadership group on Friday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Schools, university and projects across Alaska are set to receive money from new budget bill

Alaska Senate sends draft capital budget to House as work continues on a state spending plan

The Boney Courthouse in downtown Anchorage, across the street from the larger Nesbett Courthouse, holds the Alaska Supreme Court chambers. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska judge strikes down state’s cash payments to families using correspondence school programs

Decision will become a ‘hot-button legislative item’ in final weeks of session, lawmakers say.

A statue of William Henry Seward stands outside the Dimond Courthouse in downtown Juneau. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau man convicted of sexual abuse of 15-year-old girl more than four years after incidents occur

JPD: Randy James Willard, 39, sent explicit videos to and engaged in sexual contact with victim.

Capital Transit buses stop at the Valley Transit Center on Thursday. Two bus routes serving areas of the Mendenhall Valley and near the airport will temporarily be discontinued starting April 22 due to lack of staff. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Capital Transit temporarily suspending two Mendenhall Valley routes due to shortage of drivers

Officials hope to fix situation by July; extra tourist buses also scaled back due to fleet shortage.

A fenced lot proposed as a campsite for people experiencing homelessness located next to the city’s cold weather emergency shelter, in the background, is also next door to a businesses where extensive construction is scheduled, thus prompting city leaders to rethink the proposal. (Photo by Laurie Craig)
Indefinite ‘dispersed camping’ for homeless proposed by city leaders due to lack of suitable campsite

Proposed Rock Dump site is next to long-term construction, more costly than expected, report states.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, April 10, 2024

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

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, watches as the tally board in the Alaska House of Representatives shows the vote against House Joint Resolution 7 on Thursday. Eastman supported the amendment. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House votes down constitutional guarantee for Permanent Fund dividend

Guarantee had been discussed as part of long-term plan to bring state expenses in line with revenue.

Most Read