Senators Joe Paskvan, Dennis Egan, and Gary Stevens during the closeout hearing of the Senate Finance DEED Subcommittee, March 20, 2012
This blog contains highlights from the Alaska Education Update. The update is issued daily during session and contains detailed summaries of education issues under consideration by the Alaska State Legislature. If there is a hearing on a Monday, a report will, with few exceptions, be released by Tuesday morning. There is also a weekly edition of the update. During interim, reports are issued only when there has been action. Interim action may include hearings, bill signings, the release of the Governor's proposed budget for the next fiscal year, and other items that may be of interest to the education community.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Senate Finance Hearing on the FY 11 Supplemental Budget

The Senate Finance Committee heard SB 76, the FY 11 Supplmental Budget on Friday, March 18.  Chairman Hoffman said the spring 2011 revenue forecast is due soon, and they anticipate more than sufficient funds as a result of higher oil prices, and so will be able to put more money into savings. The fiscal summary shows a surplus in excess of $2 billion, if oil continues at the current rate. Even if prices drop, there should still be a substantial surplus.

Sen. Stedman said for the last several years the Senate Finance Committee has been pretty aggressive about savings. It appears that the economic downturn is over, but they will continue with a robust capital budget to build out infrastructure. Before doing so, they will continue to put substantial savings aside. The transfer of $400 million to the power cost equalization fund is to set up an endowment that will allow the PCE program to run in perpetuity. The marine highway fund addition is to take federal money into Anchorage and Mat-Su. The statutory budget reserve fund is one of their primary savings accounts. After additional deposits, and with interest, the state will have $17 billion plus in savings outside the permanent fund.

Sen. Stedman said there are substantial energy needs in Fairbanks, and a gas shortage in Anchorage, so they are looking at building a large hydroelectric project, or a large gas line, or some other energy project. Then they have to figure out how to deal with the needs of western Alaska and get western Alaska off diesel, either through another hydro project, geothermal, or some other energy source. Those projects will be coming over the next several years. They are interested in moving the state off hydrocarbons and in the direction of renewable energy sources. Alaska is very fortunate because it has the ability to set aside $17 billion.

Link to SB 76: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?bill=SB%20%2076&session=27