House Republicans Strongly Oppose Operating Budget Passed Through House
HB57 grows government, devalues permanent fund and ignores Alaskan voices
Monday, March 20, 2017, Juneau, Alaska – Today House Democrats, and those aligned with them, moved forward an operating budget that ultimately hurts Alaskans by growing government, lowering value in the permanent fund and relying on an income tax not in place.
"We're fighting to limit access to the money of hardworking Alaskans from lawmakers with unlimited plans to spend," says Finance Leader Representative Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage). "Our members looked at every area of the budget in search of reductions. It's clear the other side has refused to look at anything other than taxes."
HB57 increases state agency operations by $8.3-million over the Governors amended operating budget. Our members strongly oppose growing government at a time when budgets need to be shrinking to fit the state's decreasing revenues. Alaska House Republicans hoped to have an honest discussion about cuts but instead their voices, and in turn, the voices of more than 300-thousands of Alaskans were silenced.
"This budget takes $4-billion from our highest earning interest account which will result in a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars." Says Representative Tammie Wilson (R-North Pole). "I cannot stand behind a bill that jeopardizes the dividend and requires an income tax to fill the budget gap."
In House Finance our members offered over $200-million in agency operations savings. House Finance Member Representative Steve Thompson (R-Fairbanks) says a major concern he has with HB57 is the raid of permanent fund earnings.
"That account is our state's biggest interest earning account. Taking from it is like using your retirement savings when you have other money available. It's essentially robbing from our future," says Rep. Thompson.
"While we have reduced spending $3.3 billion since FY15 the details tell the real story. Nearly $2-billion of those reductions were from the capital budget and only $400 million from agency operations." Says Representative Cathy Tilton (R-Wasilla). "$400 million in reductions is possible because we have operated under those levels in prior fiscal years."
This budget does not provide a plan for the sustainability of Alaska which is why every House Republican present today opposed HB57.