Fiscal Year 2014 State Operations Budget Passes
Conference Committee agreement on HB 65 shaves $87 million from Gov’s bill
Sunday, April 14, 2013, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska House of Representatives voted today to approve the conference committee substitute for House Bill 65, a slimmed-down version of the Fiscal Year 2014 statewide operations budget. The annual operating budget is the only thing the Alaska Legislature is constitutionally-mandated to accomplish.
The Conference Committee Substitute invests nearly $9.9 billion in total funds in state services and programs, from road maintenance to K-12 public education funding, deferred maintenance, employee pay and benefits and the University of Alaska system. The plan is made up of $6.539 billion in state general funds, $2.03 billion in federal funds and $1.28 billion in other funds.
“This budget truly reflects a compromise between the two bodies,” House Finance Committee Co-Chair Alan Austerman, R-Kodiak, said. “It is $24.4 million higher than our own, and $25.5 million lower than the Senate’s. We’ve still managed to restrain government growth and save $87 million in general funds compared to the Governor’s budget.”
The House Majority made fiscal responsibility one of its Guiding Principles for the 28th Legislature, focusing on finding ways to live within the state’s means and developing a long-term plan for Alaska’s future. Austerman said they worked closely to tamp down growth.
“The State’s revenue picture is shifting, and our operating costs need to shift with it,” Austerman said. “We are focusing on core government services and established priorities. The changes to the budget we passed in March reflect a commitment to public education, public safety, public health, and our University. I believe this budget provides a relatively smooth transition to more frugal budgets in the next few years.”
Compromises reached between the House and Senate budgets include: fully funded tourism marketing ($16 million in general funds,) reduced Behavioral Health grant reductions from $8.4 million to $2 million, funding a new Alaska State Trooper post in Hooper Bay, a Trooper for VPSO oversight, and scores of smaller allocations for education and the University. A summary of the changes are available here.
State statute requires that mental health funding be presented in a separate appropriation bill, making it easier to track funds the state invests in that area. HB 66 is all general fund/mental health (GF/MH) and Mental Health Trust Authority Authorized Receipts (MHTAAR) investments in mental health programs and Mental Health Trust Authority operations that are also carried in HB 65. All mental health spending is accounted for in the operating budget reports prepared by the Legislative Finance Division. The Conference Committee funded minor increases.
HB 65 & HB 66 passed the House March 20 and now head to the Governor for signature.