Governor Walker Signs $4.9 Billion 2018 Operating Budget Bills into Law - P.O.W. Report

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Governor Walker Signs $4.9 Billion 2018 Operating Budget Bills into Law

Reduced $145 million in department spending; protected education and public safety funding

June 30, 2017 ANCHORAGE—Governor Bill Walker today signed into law House Bills 57 and 59, approving the $4.9 billion operating budget bills the legislature passed for fiscal year 2018 (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018), without vetoes. State spending for department operations has been cut $145 million from the previous year, and total state spending on the operating budget has been cut $1.9 billion since fiscal year 2015—a 27 percent decrease in three years. Overall state spending has been reduced 44 percent in the past five years.

In passing its budget this year, the legislature set permanent fund dividends at $1,100 for each eligible Alaskan—and chose to pay for the $2.5 billion deficit entirely from savings. That leaves only $2 billion in the state’s main savings account—which pays for response to emergencies, like earthquakes, fires, and floods.

“I thank members of the legislature for coming together to avert a shutdown of government services,” Governor Walker said. “However, the job is not complete. Without a complete fiscal plan in place, uncertainty looms over our economy. It’s time to fix this problem for good to ensure a stable foundation for generations to come. A compromise fiscal plan can be achieved in the coming weeks—if the legislature is willing to engage.”

Two days before the legislature passed the budget, Standard & Poor’s warned that the State of Alaska would get another credit downgrade if it continued to fund government services from savings and without a fiscal plan that includes revenue.

“Significant cuts have been made since 2015,” said Office of Management and Budget Director Pat Pitney. “It’s imperative members of the legislature come together to pass the necessary revenue components.”

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