President’s budget would whack Denali Commission, but that’s just a suggestion

President Trump’s 2021 budget (FDLP.gov)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Several large cuts to Alaska programs are included in the 2021 budget the Trump administration sent to Capitol Hill Monday.

As in past years, Trump proposes to slash the Denali Commission. Its funding to build rural Alaska infrastructure, like village powerplants and erosion control, would be reduced almost 60%.

But the president’s budget is not binding. It’s more of a suggestion. Congress decides.

“Congress doesn’t pay attention to the president’s budget exercise,” Sen. Mike Enzi told Politico.

Year after year, Trump has proposed to decimate the Denali Commission, and Congress has protected it. The commission is a priority for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who sits on the Appropriations Committee.

Trump’s budget also assumes oil companies will pay more than $1 billion for drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge this year, plus $442 million in 2021.

The revenues would be split evenly between the state and federal government, according to the terms of the 2017 legislation that lifted the ban on drilling in the refuge.

The Interior Department has done environmental research to prepare for an ANWR lease sale, but the auction was postponed last year, with no new date announced.