The 2020 "Honest Budget" Review - P.O.W. Report

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The 2020 "Honest Budget" Review


Below are some snippets I found worth highlighting from the Governors proposed 2020 budget. Because Alaskans should always be given the opportunity to look through the budget proposals themselves and not be tinted by media bias, I have linked up the budget for you to review in full. The snippets are from the first link which is 27 pages long. 


1. An Honest Budget Fiscal Year 2020

2. Additional Information on the Budget 


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Authorize out of state contract beds, close of sentencing portion of Wildwood Correctional Center, and transfer at least 500 long-term prisoners out of state (-$18,802,500).

  • Due to lower operating costs, correctional facilities outside of Alaska are able to provide secure confinement at less cost than highly-expensive prison beds in Alaska. It costs approximately $150 per day to house a criminal in Alaska, compared to just $95 per day in the Lower 48


Reduction to the Foundation Funding Formula Program (-$269,396.9)

  • Outspending other States has not benefited Alaska’s students nor improved the educational system. This reduction reflects that reality. The Department of Education will work with school districts to rethink existing processes in an effort to achieve better outcomes.


Withdraw One-Time Future Funding to School Districts (-$30,000,000)

  • Sustainable budgeting is difficult to achieve with forward-funding that is not driven by a formula. To target education funding to the upcoming fiscal year, the one-time FY2020 funding is being withdrawn.


Reforms to Pre-Kindergarten Programs and Grants (-$16,847,700)

  • The consolidation of Pre-Kindergarten programs maintainsand prioritizesthe department's most important functions: serving Alaskan school districts and K-12 students


Repeal Ocean Ranger Program (-$3,426,000)

  • The Ocean Ranger program was created in 2006 to conduct expensive, 24/7 monitoring of the cruise industry, funded by a fee on vessels and passengers. 
  • Cruise ships can continue to be monitored at significantly less cost. WE treat Alaska cruise ships differently than any other permitted site. The same high environmental standards can be achieved without this expensive and burdensome program.


Implement Alaska Pioneer Homes Rate Increase and Create Alaska Pioneer Homes Safety Net (-$18,178,000)

  • With the reduction in state revenues, state financial support has decreased but operational costs have become increasingly challenging to meet. As a result, the Alaska Pioneer Homes will increase rates on new residents to close the gap between the actual cost of providing services and current rates. 
  • Funding has been added to assist residents who may not be capable of paying the increased rate and ensure these residents remain in the homes. Current residents, who pay approximately 60% of the true cost of services, will be held harmless by the rate increase.


Repeal of Senior Benefits Program (-$19,986,100)

  • With the state facing a large budget deficit, and in an effort to reduce dependence on state funds, this program is being repealed to contain costs


Implement Medicaid Cost Containment Measures and Reform Initiatives (-$225,000,000)

  • Alaska’s Medicaid program, in its current form, is not financially sustainable. Expenditures per enrollee are among the highest in the country and the Alaska Medicaid program provides coverage for approximately 28 percent of Alaska’s population.


Eliminate Adult Dental Medicaid Benefits (-$27,004,500)

  • Unsustainable spending requires prioritization and realignment of Alaska’s Medicaid program. Withdrawal of the adult dental benefit allows limited funds to be prioritized toward emergency dental services


Increase Wildland Fire Suppression Activity to 38% of Long-Term Average Costs (+$8,400,000)

  • Increases the funding available for wildland fire suppression by $8,400.000, bringing the balance up to $13,641.000. Reduces the need for supplemental budget requestsin low fire years. In more active fire years the emergency declaration could be prepared later in fire season, keeping staff focused on extinguishing wildfires.


Alaska Marine Highway Transition (-$95,629,500)

  • By developing a private/public partnership the Alaska Marine Highway System will continue to provide service to Alaskans. The solely state-operated model is has failed to provide cost-effective or reliable service, and it is time to consider new governance models.


Increase Subsidy for University of Alaska Community Campuses (+$20,410,600)

  • Encourages the University to focus its funding on instruction in community campuses to increase retention and graduation rates for students required to take remedial coursework






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