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Governor Urges House to Avert Budget Crisis
House Takes POMV One Step Closer to the Voters


April 27, 2004

Juneau, AK - In an unusual move meant to underscore the seriousness of his message, Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski addressed a floor session of the Alaska House of Representatives Monday, and asked members to pass legislation that would allow no more than 5 percent of the Permanent Fund's value to be used for dividends and public education (after inflation-proofing the fund) and let the people of Alaska vote on it in November.

The Governor said he supports the endowment concept that limits spending from the Permanent Fund to 5 percent of the fund's value, of which half would pay dividends and half would be used to pay for public education, including K-12 and the university.

Murkowski said it is the responsibility of this Legislature and this Governor to take action now to fix a problem that has been hanging over Alaskans' heads for 14 years. State budget expenditures have not balanced with revenues for 11 of those 14 years, requiring the Legislature to dip into the state's savings account, the constitutional budget reserve fund.

"Alaskans are asking us to fix our financial problem, and fix it now," Murkowski said, citing poll numbers that show that as many as 90 percent of Alaskans want the Legislature to find a resolution this session. A recent question on the issue of resolving the state's financial crisis on the Anchorage municipal ballot received a 69 percent favorable vote.

"It is up to us to leave a legacy of stable government, a strong economy, and dependable jobs for future generations," Murkowski said. "Alaskans look to the Legislature for leadership, and want the Governor working with the Legislature, not gridlock, to finally bring resolve to an issue that has dominated so many sessions.

"So, I ask you to pass the constitutional proposal," Murkowski said to the House. "Put the issue on the ballot and let Alaska voters decide this November. We must get a resolution now. We have enough time remaining, and there is no good reason to extend debate at additional cost to the state or inconvenience to the members. We were sent here to reach decisions - not put them off."

The Alaska House of Representatives debated the issue Monday and passed HJR 26 Monday evening by a vote of 27-13. The resolution, which received bipartisan support, will allow Alaskan voters to decide whether the permanent fund earnings should be used to balance the state's budget.

Representative Ralph Samuels (R-Anchorage), led the debate on the House floor. "As we look to the future, Mr. Speaker, let's look past this coming November, and instead look into the next generation. Doing nothing because of high oil prices, or fear of what our opponents in the next election may say is not exercising the leadership that we were sent here to show."

Percentage of Market Value (POMV) would take a percentage of the permanent fund's market value, often 5 percent, and use it to close the fiscal gap and provide stability to the permanent fund dividend. Under existing law, the permanent fund dividend check is based on the earnings of the fund. In years with little or no earnings, a payout of the dividend may not be feasible. Use of the POMV will help ensure that Alaskans continue to receive their permanent fund dividend check.

House Speaker Pete Kott said, "Alaskans will now have the opportunity to make their voices heard on this issue. POMV is one part of an overall package to ensure that Alaska's fiscal future is a secure one. I believe it is one of the best ways to protect the permanent fund dividend that Alaskans treasure and count on."

If adopted by the Senate, HJR 26 would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot this coming November. The Senate will now consider the measure.



Editor's Note:

Yeas: Anderson, Cissna, Coghill, Fate, Foster, Gatto, Guttenberg, Harris, Hawker, Heinze, Holm, Joule, Kapsner, Kookesh, Kott, Lynn, McGuire, Morgan, Moses, Ogg, Rokeberg, Samuels, Seaton, Stepovich, Weyhrauch, Williams, Wilson...

Nays: Berkowitz, Chenault, Crawford, Croft, Dahlstrom, Gara, Gruenberg, Kerttula, Kohring, Masek, Meyer, Stoltze, Wolf....


Source of News:

Office of the Governor
Web Site

Alaska Republicans
Web Site



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