The Alaska Senate today passed the state’s operating budget for fiscal year 2020.

The budget includes $4.3 billion in unrestricted general funds (UGF) for agency and statewide operations – a reduction of $258 million over last year – and $1.94 billion to pay each eligible Alaskan a Permanent Fund dividend of approximately $3,000.

Including a $3,000 dividend in the Senate’s version of the budget creates the possibility for a House and Senate conference committee to negotiate up to the full, statutory dividend amount.

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“This budget protects the Permanent Fund for future generations of Alaskans, grows the economy, and keeps Alaskans safe,” said Senator Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “The nine-member Senate Finance Committee – representing diverse viewpoints across our vast state – produced a budget Alaskans can be proud of.”

$18.4 billion of Alaska’s $64.5 billion Permanent Fund is currently in an earnings reserve account that can be spent by the Legislature with a simple majority vote. To protect these funds, the Senate’s budget moves $12 billion from the earnings reserve into the constitutionally protected corpus, which cannot be accessed without amending the state’s constitution.

“Defending the Permanent Fund is a top priority for the Senate,” said Senator Natasha von Imhof, R-Anchorage, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “This budget locks away $12 billion into the Permanent Fund’s principal, taking nearly one-fifth of the fund’s assets off the table. This historic transfer will force the Legislature to have a conversation about a sustainable dividend calculation moving forward.”

The Senate’s budget affirms the FY20 forward-funding for K-12 education approved last year

“This budget delivers solid results for Alaska families and businesses,” said Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage. “I am immensely proud of the work of the Senate Finance Committee, particularly the two co-chairs.”

House Bill 39 passed the Senate by a vote of 19 to 1 and is now on its way to the Alaska House of Representatives for concurrence.

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