Dunleavy signs capital budget, restores college scholarships
Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Thursday signed a budget bill that restores funding college scholarships and rural energy assistance.
Senate Bill 2002 also funds highway, airport and other construction projects that triggers nearly $1 billion in federal matching dollars.
The bill passed last week after the House ended a long struggle to secure a required a three-quarter vote rather than a simple majority of 21.
Otherwise the bill would have gone largely unfunded.
The bill included an effort to restore several dozen depleted funds shifted to a state savings account per the Alaska constitution. Those funds are worth about $2 billion.
The familiar term is known as a “sweep,” and unless lawmakers responded with a “reverse sweep” — and the necessary three-quarter vote from each chamber — they would remain in the Constitutional Budget Reserve.
A reverse sweep vote gained statewide attention after Dunleavy included some accounts that have historically been left alone. Those include the Power Cost Equalization Endowment Fund and Higher Education Investment Fund, both which generate their own revenue.
Still, Dunleavy cut more than $34 million in appropriations, including:
• Statewide Addiction Treatment Facilities - $10 million
• University of Alaska deferred maintenance - $2.5 million
• Alaska vessel tracking upgrades and expansion - $400,000
• Yukon Flats School District, potable water tank roof replacement - $300,000
• University of Alaska earthquake monitoring network - $2.5 million
Dunleavy has come under heavy scrutiny for his vetoes, enough to generate an opposition recall effort that got underway last week.
“I'm under no illusions that the impacts of reductions aren't felt by Alaskans,” Dunleavy said at the bill signing. “They are. When you are reducing budgets by the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars it's certainly going to have an impact on Alaskans and programs and services.”
Dunleavy also has another budget bill on his desk.
It’s HB 2001, which restores more than $300 million of his operating budget vetoes, including $110 million for the University of Alaska. The bill also features a $1,600 Permanent Fund dividend; Dunleavy remains steadfast that Alaskans should have a $3,000 PFD.
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