Dunleavy releases $ 11 billion budget plan

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Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy speaks about Alaska’s proposed Fiscal 2023 operating and capital budget on Wednesday, December 15, 2021 in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office)

A dividend of $ 2,564, millions to stabilize the Kenai bluff and full funding for public education are among the highlights of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, which was presented on Wednesday. .

The theme of the nearly $ 11 billion budget is “Looking to the Future” and sets out the state’s priorities, Dunleavy said Tuesday. The total of $ 10.9 billion includes approximately $ 4.6 billion in federal funding, approximately $ 4.6 billion in unallocated general funds, $ 912 million in designated general funds, and $ 792 million in other state funds.

Much of the federal funding, Dunleavy said, is the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, namely federal efforts to help economic recovery. He said that while he doesn’t expect such a steady influx of federal funds, he sees the funds as an opportunity to “strengthen” the state’s economy.

“We don’t expect this to be an annual event,” Dunleavy said.

He pointed out on Wednesday that the budget figure marks a 7% drop in overall state spending from the fiscal year 2019 budget and said the state was “on track” to end the fiscal year in course with a surplus for the first time since 2012.

One of the areas with the most clear priority is public safety. The budget proposal for fiscal year 23 includes approximately $ 3 million for 10 new village public safety officer positions, 15 new Alaska State soldier positions with a final appropriation to be determined with the lawmakers, $ 5.1 million to purchase new body and vehicle cameras for law enforcement and $ 6.3 million. million dollars for family violence and sexual assault prevention programs.

The proposed budget also includes full funding for the Basic Pupil Allowance Formula, which determines the amount of money allocated to local school districts by the state, full funding for school debt repayment, and approximately 55 million dollars to replace a school in Napakiak, where erosion from the Kuskokwim River has already freed up some classrooms.

Dunleavy is also offering $ 1.7 billion for 2022 PFD payments of $ 2,564 for each eligible Alaskan. That amount, Dunleavy’s office said in a statement, reflects its 50/50 dividend plan, whereby the money from the Alaska Permanent Fund would be split 50/50 between dividend and utilities.

The proposal also includes funding of $ 6.5 million for the stabilization of the Kenai Cliff, which would complement the local financial contribution from the Town of Kenai for the project according to current estimates. The city has previously said it hopes to continue federal funding for the project under the $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill signed last month.

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander said on Wednesday that while there are still contingencies that could stand in the way, the city is delighted to see the project within the proposed budget. He wrote in a Dec. 7 note to Jill Schaefer of the Dunleavy regional office that although the project has a preliminary cost estimate of $ 42 million, the expected cost is between $ 25 million and $ 35 million. The city administration, Ostrander wrote, is using $ 30 million for planning purposes.

At this estimate, the city would be required to set up a local counterpart of $ 10.5 million, of which $ 4 million has already been obtained.

“Alaska state funding could help make this project a reality, a project that has been the town of Kenai’s number one capital priority for at least three decades,” Ostrander wrote. “Buildings and infrastructure have been lost due to erosion, and capital investment in an area that would otherwise be large is negligible. This project would immediately create an increase in property values ​​and stimulate investment in an area that is arguably the jewel of the peninsula.

The budget proposal also includes funding for safety improvements on a section of the Sterling Motorway between Sterling and Soldotna which has been designated as a “road safety corridor” due to the high rates of fatal and serious injuries.

The budget is submitted for approval to the Alaska Legislature, which reconvenes for the second regular session on January 18, 2022.

House of Representatives Speaker Louise Stutes R-Kodiak said in a statement Wednesday that the one-time funds included in Dunleavy’s budget proposal would “fundamentally change the fiscal reality of Alaska.” Among other things, Stutes said the legislature will need to “carefully consider” the proposal to ensure that it is accurate, that federal funds are being used appropriately and that revenue projections are realistic.

“It’s important to remember that a slight increase in the price of oil, changes in the stock market, and one-time funding from Washington do not fundamentally change the fiscal reality of Alaska,” Stutes wrote. “We need to make tough decisions on a budget to ensure the sustainability of budgeting and the PFD. ”

Further information on the budget package and process is available in the Office of State Budget and Management at omb.alaska.gov/fiscal-year-2023-proposed-budget/.

Contact reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at [email protected]



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