Sen. Bill Stoltze says any changes to the Permanent Fund should be set in the constitution. As chair of the State Affairs Committee, his committee is the first stop for Gov. Bill Walker’s Senate Bill 128 on “replumbing” the Permanent Fund to bridge the state’s nearly $4 billion budget shortfall.

Stoltze said he doesn’t want to vote that bill into law, unless the public votes it into the constitution.

“When the Legislature first offered up a Permanent Fund proposal, it was in statute,” Stoltze said. “Governor Hammond vetoed it, and demanded a constitutional amendment. That’s my first choice.”

Stoltze said putting a constitutional amendment before voters in the fall would restore trust that the Legislature won’t overspend from the fund, and give the public more say in the process.

“One of the things I like about a constitutional amendment, is to have a revenue/spending limitation,” Stoltze said. “If oil prices rebound, we don’t all of a sudden have more money flowing in than we can really handle on a sustainable basis.”

SB128 is the main component of the governor’s plan for bridging the state’s budget gap, providing $3.3 billion from the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve for state spending.