Dunleavy administration dealing with potential deficit
Gov. Dunleavy’s administration submitted the Walker administration's proposed $11.5 billion budget for 2020 on Friday to meet a statutory deadline.
Administration officials said a press release Friday that the root of the problem with Walker’s budget lies in a single number — it’s unrealistic projection that oil will sell for $75 per barrel between July 2019 and 2020.
“The Dunleavy administration is all about truth in budgeting,” Alaska Department of Revenue Commissioner Bruce Tangeman said. “We performed a thorough analysis of the revenue estimates submitted by the previous administration and, it became clear it did not represent the true size of the budget deficit.”
Members of Dunleavy’s team used what they call a more realistic oil price forecast of $64 per barrel, and the deficit balloons to $1.6 billion, according to Friday’s press release.
In the coming weeks, the Dunleavy administration plans to revise the budget submitted Friday to rein in state spending and prioritize core services and programs.
“All items of state expenditures are on the table,” said Office of Management and Budget director Donna Arduin.
Senate Democrats responded quickly to Gov. Dunleavy’s budget revision, praising him for his promise to pay Alaskans a full Permanent Fund dividend, but brought attention to the apparent deficit.
“Unfortunately, Alaska's deficit will increase to $1.6 billion under his budget, mostly because of a drop in oil prices and no significant increase in oil production next year,” Sen. Bill Wielechowski said.
According to Wielechowski, the state is still losing over $1.2 billion a year in per barrel oil tax credits, a program he believes the state should shut down in order to close the budget gap.
The Dunleavy administration stated their budget will be predictable, sustainable and realistic.
A fiscal summary included with the governor's 2020 budget documents lists $1.9 billion set aside for Permanent Fund dividends.
According to data posted by the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Division, between 83 and 92 percent of Alaskans have received dividends each year between 2010 and 2017. If an average of those years' recipient percentages — 86 percent — got dividends based on Alaska's population last year of 739,795 people, estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau, the $1.9 billion earmarked for dividends in Dunleavy's budget would work out to roughly $3,055.53 for 636,223 recipients.
Chris Klint contributed to this story.
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