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Senate Passes One of Smallest Operating Budgets in Recent Years

FY2015 Operating Budget reduces government agency growth

JUNEAU-The Alaska State Senate passed its version of the Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget, House Bill 266. The $9.3 billion budget includes $5.20 billion from Unrestricted General Funds (UGF), $1.3 billion in other state funds and $2.01 billion in federal funding.

“Last year, the Legislature applied the brakes to rapid growth and, in this budget, reduced the ‘Day to Day’ operating spending of the state,” said Senate Finance Co-Chair Pete Kelly. “We took a budget that was going like a runaway train and stopped it dead in its tracks. This year, we actually put it in reverse. This reduction allowed us to add funding for the education system for FY15 and FY16.”

The Operating Budget, as passed by the Senate, dealt with the non-formula “Day to Day” operations of state government. It reduces those functions by $51.5 million from last year which represents a 2.2% total reduction. “Stand by as we get this thing under control and work to protect our savings accounts for future generations,” added Senator Kelly.

“Last year, when the Senate Majority organized, we set a goal of controlling state spending. I think the passage of the Operating Budget today shows we are not only meeting that goal, we are exceeding it,” said Senate President Charlie Huggins (R-Wasilla). “We will continue to budget responsively and live within our means in order to minimize our deficit spending and the draw on our savings.

The Senate Finance Committee made several changes to the FY2015 Operating Budget that passed the House. One of those changes included adding $75 million in K-12 funding with an additional $100 million added to K-12 funding in FY16. This funding is outside the Base Student Allocation and will be distributed on an adjusted student count basis.

The Committee also restored $985,000 of a $1,200,000 reduction to the SHARP program. Public testimony for this program was very compelling which led to funding being partially restored for this program.

“We were very responsive to public testimony – the SHARP program is a good example of that,” said Senator Kelly. “I’d like to also offer a huge thanks to the Senate Finance Subcommittees and the Senate Finance Committee for everyone’s hard work on this budget.”

The Operating Budget will now head back to the House for concurrence. If the House does not concur with the changes, a conference committee will be appointed to work on a compromise.

To take a closer look at a breakdown of the budget, please click here.

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