Andrew Kitchenman, Alaska Public Media & KTOO - Juneau

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Alaska Legislature confirms all of Dunleavy’s commissioners

The closest votes were for Public Safety Commissioner Amanda Price and Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum.

Cost to move Legislature could be up to $45M if state builds office, analysts find

The first-year cost is closer to $3 million if the state rents office space instead of building new facilities, analysts find.

Bill would shift Medicaid recipients to private insurance market

Under a measure backed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Medicaid would pay the insurance premiums for the people who are shifted over to the private health insurance market.

House sends budget with spending cuts to Senate, without setting PFDs

The Alaska House passed a budget on Thursday that includes $257 million in cuts to the portion of the state budget the Legislature directly controls.

Senators weigh splitting permanent fund draw between state and dividends — and limiting spending

Sen. Natasha von Imhof says the combination of splitting the Alaska Permanent Fund draw and limiting spending would allow PFDs to grow over time.

Dunleavy calls for action on constitutional amendments, crime bills

Gov. Mike Dunleavy said state lawmakers aren’t moving fast enough to pass his big priorities this session. That’s not just an idle threat — Dunleavy has constitutional powers he can use to force lawmakers into action.

House Finance budget includes cuts, but less than the governor’s

The Alaska House Finance Committee has proposed a budget that reduces state spending by $314 million, less than a third of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed cut of $1.03 billion. The committee finished its work on Friday, proposing cuts that are much greater than those proposed by House subcommittees.

Lawmakers seek competitive contract to run psychiatric institute

Rep. Ivy Spohnholz said the department didn’t provide enough information to Chief Procurement Officer Jason Soza for him to be able to adequately review the contract, which would pay Wellpath $225 million over five years.

Lawmakers amend budget to stop reimbursing municipalities for school bond debt

The House Finance Committee voted Wednesday for an amendment that would stop the state from reimbursing municipalities for existing school bond debt.

Alaska aims to be first state receiving federal Medicaid funding as a block grant

Gov. Mike Dunleavy told President Donald Trump in a letter dated March 1 that top federal Medicaid official Seema Verma has urged Alaska to be the first state to receive Medicaid dollars as a block grant.

Bill would extend moratorium on state reimbursing municipalities for school bonds

The state stopped covering 60%-70% of new school bonds beginning in 2015. This moratorium is scheduled to end next year; North Pole Republican Rep. Tammie Wilson has sponsored a bill to keep the moratorium in place.

Lawsuit seeks to eliminate Medicaid application backlog

The Alaska Division of Public Assistance director says the backlog has been shrinking recently, including a large decrease in the past month.

Most Dunleavy budget cuts face legal, political obstacles

With most of the budget, if the Legislature decides to fund more than what the governor wants, he can use his line-item veto to remove the money. But not in the case of the school funds.

Alaska state senators say PFD formula could be changed

Splitting the draw from permanent fund earnings between government and dividends would make dividends more predictable.

Alaska House subcommittees propose much smaller cuts than those in Dunleavy’s budget

The House Finance subcommittees have proposed a total of $47 million in reductions from the portion of the current budget the Legislature controls.

Alaska lawmakers weigh becoming only state to not fund medical education

Sixty-one percent of Alaska medical students who attend the WWAMI program return to Alaska. That’s higher than the national average of graduates who stay in state, but it’s lower than what Alaska lawmakers would like to see.

Governor’s team contrasts 10-year plan and alternatives, but House speaker says message is ill-timed

The plan looks at what the state would spend over the next 10 years if the Legislature adopts all of Dunleavy’s spending proposals — and if lawmakers and Alaskans amend the state constitution to limit spending.

Lawmakers, open meeting advocates criticize conditions for attending Dunleavy meetings

Dunleavy’s office described the events as discussions of the governor’s budget plan and amendment proposals. The next day, Americans for Prosperity Alaska posted online that it was hosting the events, along with terms and conditions for attendees.

Medicaid cuts, while aimed at access, still raise concerns

As Gov. Mike Dunleavy seeks to close a $1.6 billion budget gap, the administration looked to Medicaid, where it could cut a lot of costs: $249 million.
pipeline

State forecasts higher oil prices, lower production in spring update

Combined with some other changes, the Alaska Department of Revenue now projects that the state will have $89 million less for this year’s budget. And it will have $39 million more for the 2020 budget that begins in July.