Senate passes budget bill with $1,600 PFD
The Senate passed a budget that restores more than $300 million of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s vetoes and approved a $1,600 Permanent Fund dividend.
This includes funding for the University of Alaska, the state’s Senior Benefits Program and Medicaid. It was the second budget bill passed on Monday; the House approved funding for a capital budget that also restores money for college scholarships and rural energy assistance.
House Bill 2001 passed 17-1 with Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, voting no. When a majority member votes against a budget, it can often cost that person a spot within the majority.
If so, she would be the second lawmaker to lose her position in a majority caucus. Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, lost her seat at House Finance co-chair and ultimately her spot with the Democratic-led majority.
The hearing lasted nearly two hours and featured some contentious debate over the size of the PFD.
The amount began at $3,000 but was later amended to $1,600 on an 11-9 vote.
Before the vote, Senate Finance Co-Chair Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, reviewed a list of restored vetoes, which include:
• $110 million for the University of Alaska. “Gives them a little bit of a haircut still, but gives them some funds for a softer landing in their budget reductions."
• $20.7 million for the Senior Benefits. “These are the most needy of our seniors using this money for basic medicine and food."
• $50 million returned for Medicaid.
• $2 million for public broadcasting. “It’s a safety issue around the state, especially for rural Alaska."
• $5 million for the Alaska Marine Highway System “If the ships ever sail."
• $8.8 million for early education. “We all know if the young Alaskans get a good head start and a good beginning, they are going to have a better childhood."
• $2.7 million for Alaska Council on the Arts.
• $1 million for commercial fisheries management. “We all know without fisheries management you have no fisheries and they’ll shut the coast down."
• $3 million for village public safety officers. “We know and we’ve seen and we’ve been visited by the highest cop in the land from Washington D.C. [U.S. Attorney General William Barr] appalled at rural Alaska and the lack of policing and police services for the good citizens of rural Alaska that need help in their community."
Once the bill gets sent to Dunleavy, he has 15 days excluding Sundays to take action. He can sign the bill without vetoes; veto portions of it, or let it become law without a signature.
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.
YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN: