Dunleavy plans to release amended budget in January

JUNEAU — Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy’s full vision for Alaska’s budget will wait until January.

In an interview with reporters before the start of the holiday open house Dec. 11 at the Governor’s Mansion in Juneau, Alaska’s new governor said he will use a modified version of former Gov. Bill Walker’s budget in order to meet a legal deadline.

State law requires the governor to publicly release a budget proposal by Dec. 15 each year.

“We’re going to roll it out probably on the 14th,” Dunleavy said. “It’s going to have some slight changes from what the governor (Walker) did because we need a little more time to actually put our stamp on it and spend some time working through the details with the different departments.”

Dunleavy said the document coming this week will be amended “in January.”

Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Laura Cramer confirmed Dunleavy’s schedule as accurate.

The governor said Alaskans should expect his budget will follow his campaign promises.

“Public safety is job No. 1, making sure we have a balanced budget, putting our resources to work so we can get people back to work, and paying a full dividend,” he said.

When it comes to a “full dividend,” Dunleavy confirmed that he means a dividend paid on the statutory formula and the repayment of portions of the dividend vetoed by Walker and cut by prior sessions of the Alaska Legislature.

That proposal is expected to cost about $4 billion. Earlier in the day, Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation executive director Angela Rodell told the Daily News that she is planning for a $2.9 billion draw from the Permanent Fund next fiscal year.

That amount was set by the Alaska Legislature last year as part of a plan for sustainable spending from the fund.

“Everything about this administration is going to be about making things sustainable over the long term,” Dunleavy said, but Permanent Fund trustees have repeatedly warned about the dangers of withdrawing more money from the fund than called for under a “rules-based” approach.

Earlier this year, they approved a resolution asking elected officials to keep within the rules, the better to allow investment officers to reduce risks to the state’s investments.

Even staying within those rules carries some risks. In 2017, an independent analysis found that the fund stands a 50-50 chance of losing value and a significant chance of losing all of its investment earnings, which are held in an account unprotected by the Alaska Constitution.

Speaking on other matters Dec. 11, Dunleavy said he will leave Alaska Dec. 12 for Washington, D.C. and meetings with President Donald Trump, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal representatives regarding recovery efforts following the Nov. 30 Southcentral earthquake.

“We’re still in the process of plugging in a few more appointments,” Dunleavy said of his itinerary.

He said he has not yet named a new commissioner for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and is “still working over that particular appointment.”

12/12/2018 - 10:29am