Deadline looms as lawmakers still have yet to pass a state budget

The 121-day legislative session is set to expire at midnight on May 17
Fastcast digital headlines for Thursday, May 11, 2023.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 7:28 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - With the Alaska Legislature session quickly heading toward the 121-day mark, the House and Senate chambers are yet to pass a state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. It’s a looming deadline set to expire in less than a week.

In April the state House passed a budget featuring a $2,700 Permanent Fund Dividend payment for qualifying Alaskans, based in part on the so-called 50-50 plan, which splits a transfer from the permanent fund — one half for dividends and the other half for services.

According to Sen. Bert Stedman, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, the House’s budget as it stands would create an $800 million deficit.

“The last thing we want to do is go out with a big bomb saying ‘Well here’s your great big check but you may not get one in five years,’” House Minority Rep. Alyse Galvin said during a press conference Wednesday. “We don’t want to go down that path because it’s just so irresponsible. We’re not looking at just get re-elected, we’re looking at the future of Alaska.”

On Thursday, the Senate Majority discussed changes in its new version of the budget to include potential revenue for the Constitutional Budget Reserve — the state’s savings account — and a possible energy relief dividend to be paid out in the fall of 2024. Those revenues, however, would be completely dependent on future oil prices.

“If oil prices are higher than expected and they range between $73 and $83, those funds would spill over into the CBR to help build up our cash reserves which have been depleted,” Stedman said during a Thursday press conference. “If oil prices range higher than $83 all the way up to $105 those extra revenues then would be shared between an energy dividend and the CBR.”

The legislature is scheduled to end by midnight on May 17, unless a vote is carried out to extend it into a special session.