Gov. Walker details budget proposal
Gov. Bill Walker's office released a three-part budget plan Friday that officials say "strengthens public safety, creates jobs for Alaskans and restores accountability in the budget process."
"We have cut spending to increase funding for public safety," Walker said in a statement.
The administration's safety plan proposes a $34 million increase in public safety spending, which would include funding for a statewide drug prosecutor, prosecutors in Bethel, Kotzebue and Anchorage, trooper investigators in Bethel and Kotzebue and an expansion of substance abuse treatment programs.
Walker's office said Friday that the governor wanted to put resources in western Alaska because of an uptick in caseloads there. The plan also includes two prosecutors in Anchorage.
Of that $34 million, $18 million is proposed for substance abuse treatment including residential and outpatient services, withdrawal management, sobering centers, 72-hour evaluation facilities and help with housing. The state Department of Health and Social Services is expected to put out a request for proposals to conduct those programs.
The second part of plan aims to create jobs and fix infrastructure.
"Let's take control of our future and put Alaskans back to work by fixing and maintaining our existing infrastructure," Gov. Walker said.
The plan would implement a 1.5 percent payroll deduction to fund a $1.4 billion economic investment over three years to create jobs. The payroll deduction would cease in 2021. Of that, $800 million would go toward's the state's $1.8 billion deferred maintenance backlog.
The plan is similar to one rejected by lawmakers during the special session. But Walker said there are key differences including the fact that the tax would go away in three years. And that it would go specifically deal with deferred maintenance while providing as many as a thousand jobs for Alaskans who want to do the work.
Additionally, the Administration is proposing to pay off outstanding oil and gas exploration tax credits in fiscal year 2019 and grant the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation the authority to accept funds from sources other than the state.
Lastly, the third part of the proposal, Walker's office says, will create more transparency and reform the budget process.
"We should pink-slip ourselves before we hand out pink slips to teachers and troopers," Walker said in a statement Friday.
The plan states it will hold both the Governor and the Legislature accountable for not publishing and passing the budget, respectively, by forfeiting pay and per diem for each overdue day.
"The consequence is, the governor's pay should stop. And I also believe that's the same for the legislature. If they don't get it done by the ninetieth day, their pay should stop, their per diem should stop. They shouldn't be rewarded for what I call bad behavior."
"There's no question we have to fix our infrastructure so I believe they'll see the wisdom of saying yes, we've got to put Alaskans to work."
Secondly, the proposal plans to implement a biennial budget that the Governor's Office says will increase efficiency and reduce uncertainty, a practice already in place in 19 other states.
Lastly, the Office of Management and Budget will work with Legislative Budget and Audit to change the way the budget is presented and create greater transparency.
Read the full budget proposal on the Governor's website here.
Joe Vigil contributed information to this story.
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