Walker signs state budget, vetoes KABATA again
On Wednesday, Gov. Bill Walker signed into law a series of state budgets along with a measure that establishes the framework for an annual draw from the permanent fund's earnings.
The budget signed Wednesday is 2 percent bigger than the one Walker originally submitted in December.
"That 2 percent is made up of increases in Public Safety, Education and the Permanent Fund dividend, and so I support those increases," Walker said before approving both the state's operating and capital budgets. "I will certainly not be making any adjustments to any of those."
Walker's version of the budget included a $1,000 dividend payment for 2018. Lawmakers increased the amount to $1,600, still less than the $2,700 PFD calculated by the state's current formula.
Walker did remove $2.5 million in funding for the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority (KABATA). Walker halted the project following a budget veto in 2016.
"That was a project that was closed out some time ago and $2.5 million on a billion dollar project that doesn’t happen. It’s going to take a whole lot more than that," Walker said of the veto.
Other vetoes include $500,000 for a university study to determine the prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency among pregnant women and newborns, and protected funding for a Mountain View Street lighting project, which the legislature intended to tap for other purposes.
"So, it will look like a veto, but it’s not," Walker said, expressing his administration's support for the Mountain View project.
Walker praised the legislature's passage of Senate Bill 26, which he calls the Permanent Fund Protection Act, before signing the measure into law.
"That’s really created the funding vehicle to fund the state going forward on this," Walker said.
On Friday, S&P released a report revising Alaska's credit outlook from negative, to stable. Walker called the move "clear evidence that our fiscal woes are behind us," noting that 80 percent of the state's fiscal gap was closed with Senate Bill 26.
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