Alaska Legislature

Here are the four budget issues Alaska lawmakers still need to address

As the Alaska Legislature works its way through a second special session this year, here are the four major issues it is confronting in the state Capitol:

• This year’s Permanent Fund dividend has not been set. The governor and a strong minority of the Legislature favor a $3,000 dividend paid using the existing formula in state law. A majority of the Legislature has voted for a lesser amount.

• The Legislature is still debating whether to reverse Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s decision to veto $444 million from the state’s operating budget. While the Legislature has missed the deadline to directly override the vetoes, lawmakers could create a new funding bill to replace vetoed money. Doing so would require an agreement with the governor or, if the governor chooses to veto that new funding bill, support from three-quarters of the Legislature to override that veto.

• The capital budget is mostly unfunded. Earlier this year, the Alaska House failed to muster a three-quarters supermajority to spend money from the Constitutional Budget Reserve on projects in the capital budget. (The Republican House minority withheld its vote in an attempt to force approval of a $3,000 dividend.) Without a funded capital budget, the state will miss out on more than $900 million in federal grants unlocked by state spending.

[Alaska Senate approves fixes for capital budget and reverse sweep; bill goes to House]

• Dozens of program-specific savings accounts are being automatically drained because of the failure of the “reverse sweep" vote in the House. Again, the Republican House minority previously withheld its vote on the reverse sweep in an attempt to force approval of a $3,000 PFD. Without a completed reverse sweep, more than $2 billion in accounts will be drained into the Constitutional Budget Reserve, and more than $100 million in programs paid for by those accounts will go unfunded.

James Brooks

James Brooks was a Juneau-based reporter for the ADN from 2018 to May 2022.