JUNEAU – The Alaska Senate today voted to restore funding for programs critical to Alaskans and provide for a sustainable Permanent Fund dividend amount.
House Bill 2001 reverses about 80 percent of the governor’s cuts to public safety, health, and education and would pay each eligible Alaskan a $1,600 dividend later this year. The successful vote formally ended a several month-long impasse in the Senate over the dividend amount.
“Today’s vote is about moving Alaska forward,” said Senator Natasha von Imhof, R-Anchorage, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “This compromise bill restores funding to programs affecting the life, health and safety of Alaskans while also paying out the largest dividend we can afford.”
A law enacted last year caps spending from the Permanent Fund at a sustainable rate. Without reforming the decade’s old dividend formula, lawmakers could not find agreement on a dividend larger than $1,600.
“Our predecessors had the vision to protect Alaska’s oil wealth for the future, and we must do the same,” said Senator Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “The Permanent Fund is not for us to squander. We must do everything in our power to protect it for future generations.”
HB 2001 passed the Senate 17-1 and is now on its way to the Alaska House of Representatives for a concurrence vote.
The Alaska Legislature today also approved a capital budget, Senate Bill 2002, providing the state’s private sector with $1 billion in federal matching funds for highway and construction projects.
“We appreciate the governor adding the capital budget to the agenda,” Sen. Von Imhof said. “With its passage, we’ll save thousands of Alaska jobs and bring in more than $1 billion in federal matching funds.”
The bill also addresses the ‘reverse sweep’ issue, which will save scholarships for 12,000 students, reduce energy prices in rural Alaska by protecting the Power Cost Equalization program, and provide grants to organizations that combat domestic violence and homelessness.