Southwest legislators discussed House and Senate priorities for how to address a nearly $3 billion deficit at the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference in Anchorage March 3.
Defining Alaska’s fiscal future is the overarching issue in front of the state’s elected officials this legislative session. Both the House and Senate say use of Permanent Fund earnings and more spending cuts will be necessary to fill a roughly $3 billion dollar deficit. The House differs from the Senate with a proposal to add an income tax and an effort to reform oil and gas tax credits to avoid deeper cuts.
Last week, the Senate passed a bill to restructure the Permanent Fund, drawing 5.25 percent from the earnings reserve and fixing the dividend check at $1000 for the next three years. The Republican led Senate says they want to see spending capped at $4.1 billion rather than address new revenues like an income tax.
Sen. Lyman Hoffman (D-Bethel), Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak), and Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak), offered their perspectives during a panel at the annual Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference in Anchorage in early March.