Juneau, AK-- A joint House and Senate committee in the Alaska Legislature achieved a historic budget cut on Saturday, resulting in a $600 million surplus and the smallest budget in 15 years.
The budget includes $4.3 billion in unrestricted general funds for agency and statewide operations, which is $190 million less than last year. The budget also transfers more than $10 billion from the Permanent Fund’s earnings reserve account into the fund’s constitutionally protected corpus.
According to a statement from Senator Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, “This budget delivers significant reductions to government spending, keeps Alaskans safe and protects the Permanent Fund for our kids and grandkids.” Stedman also states that “locking up $10 billion plus into the Permanent Fund’s constitutionally protected vault will keep it out of reach of future Legislatures. It will ensure our descendants always benefit from the resource wealth accumulated over the past 40 years.”
Currently, $19 billion of Alaska’s $65.3 billion Permanent Fund sits in an earnings reserve account that can be spent by the Legislature with a simple majority vote. To protect these funds, the proposed budget moves over $10 billion from the earnings reserve into the constitutionally protected corpus, which cannot be accessed without amending the state’s constitution.
The Legislature’s proposed budget, which is adjusted for inflation and population, is the smallest since 2005.
Senate President, Cath Giessel, said in a statement “This budget delivers solid results for Alaska families and businesses, we managed to reverse government spending back 15 years - that’s a huge achievement.”
The operating budget now moves back to the House and Senate. A vote is expected in the Senate on Monday, June 10th.