The budgets are a little bit behind schedule this year. Last week’s announcement that the Senate Resources committee is taking more time than expected in writing a new oil tax structure has led the Senate Finance Committee to lag on budget action.
In the House, subcommittees writing departmental level budgets are expected to finish closing their reports this week, leaving next week for assembly, amendments and public input into the final plan – with the complete budget being voted on and sent to the Senate the following week.
The problem arises with the oil tax bill, which is expected in Senate Finance the same week the Operating Budget arrives.
Co-Chairman Lyman Hoffman says that subcommittees are now meeting and will be ready for the House bill. But they are now looking at about a ten-day delay on dealing with the operating budget.
I don’t see that hindering our process to get the operating budget done before the end of the session. In the past five years I think we left margins of up to two weeks to make sure our work was done, so we will have less of a cushion but I don’t think that is going to hinder our process in getting the budget done timely.
While the House usually takes action first on the Operating Budget, the Senate takes the lead on the Capital Projects budget. And Co-Chairman Bert Stedman says he’s using the time now available to get ahead a little on that part of the spending plan. He has already held seven hearings on the overall budget – and will be ready for the tax bill.
We are concentrating on growing and diversifying the state’s economy and making sure that Alaska doesn’t slip into the economic molasses the sourthern-48 does. So you’ll see a fairly robust capital budget again this year concentrating on deferred maintenance and energy issues. And also savings, we’ll be putting away four Billion additional dollars.
Stedman explained that much of the money that will be saved will come from the current world oil prices that have spiked recently.