Parnell proposes $24.5M supplemental budget

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Sean Parnell has proposed a $24.5 million supplemental budget for unexpected or additional costs this fiscal year.

Parnell said his request includes a net decrease to the budget of about $11 million in state general fund dollars. It also includes a reduction of $25 million for the Medicaid program, which Parnell, in his transmittal letter, attributed largely to cost control measures. Margaret Brodie, with the state Department of Health and Social Services, said expenses for the program weren't as high as earlier expected.

The supplemental request includes $490,000 for security upgrades at the Office of Children Services in Anchorage, which recently received menacing calls and threats; $5.3 million for estimated spring firefighting costs and $942,900 for increased lease costs within the Department of Labor for renegotiated contracts in Anchorage and Juneau. It also includes $925,000 for an increase in the cost of indigent burials and $3.4 million for disaster funding.

Ron Kreher, director of public assistance for the state health department, said the state will pay for the burial of many individuals who receive adult public assistance, including the elderly or disabled, as well other indigent individuals who might be homeless or have no family who can pay for the cost of a funeral. He said the department isn't seeing a huge spike in the number of indigent burials but said the request is driven more by the increased costs.

The budget request says severe storms that struck Southcentral and Interior Alaska last September depleted the available general funds in the state disaster relief fund. The $3.4 million is to put money back in the fund, noting that spring floods have traditionally been eligible for aid from the fund.

The proposal also calls for $1.5 million for the cost of litigation associated with the engines on two fast ferries. It would reappropriate about $1.9 million within the Department of Revenue toward analysis on the state's oil and gas tax system.

Parnell's budget director, Karen Rehfeld, said $2 million had originally been earmarked to Revenue to ensure state agencies complied with standards to accept credit card payments. But she said most departments were able to make necessary changes within their existing resources.

01/31/2013 - 5:27am