Alaska Senate on a Savings
Fiscal Planning Bills, Capital
April 07, 2008
(SitNews) - Several major pieces
of legislation moved through the Alaska Senate last week as it
nears the end of the 2008 legislative session and historic deposits
to the state's rainy day accounts were made.
Savings Spree - The Alaska Senate went on a big savings
spree this session. The Senate made several deposits to the state's
rainy day accounts, the Constitutional Budget Reserve and the
Statutory Budget Reserve. The total amount of savings this session
totals five billion dollars.
For every dollar spent this session another two dollars were
- $2.6 billion CBR deposit in
the FY 08 supplemental budget
- $1.0 billion Statutory Budget
Reserve deposit in the FY 08 supplemental budget
- $1.0 billion CBR deposit in
the FY 09 operating budget
- $400 million CBR deposit in
the FY 08 capital budget
Capital Budget - The Senate passed a capital budget
bill that will save, protect and build Alaska from Barrow to
Ketchikan. Senate Bill 221, the state's FY 09 capital budget,
funds a wide range of public safety, transportation and education
projects in a fiscally responsible manner that still saves billions
of dollars of the state's surplus oil revenue.
Senate Finance Co-Chair Bert Stedman said it will help move the
economy forward and drive private sector jobs. In addition to
funding 60 percent of the administration's budget requests, it
includes important school, road and public safety projects that
were requested by communities all across the state.
The FY 09 capital budget appropriates $556 million of general
fund revenue. SB 221 now goes to the House for its consideration.
Long Range Fiscal Plan - The Senate also approved House
Bill 125, the Long Range Fiscal Plan bill. The Governor will
be required each year to provide a ten year forward estimate
of the state's major sources of revenue and uses of funds, in
addition to the annual spending plan for the next fiscal year.
HB 125 now goes to the Governor to be signed into law.
Secure Retirement for State Employees A significant
step to solving the multibillion dollar shortfall in the state's
public employee and teacher retirement systems was also accomplished
House Bill 13 allows the state to utilize a proven pension liability
financial mechanism, generally referred to as "Pension Obligation
Bonds" (POBs). POBs mean the state can reduce the cost of
the paying off the unfunded liabilities already incurred by the
public retirement systems.
Pension finance transactions involve borrowing money in the international
capital markets at a lower rate of interest than is earned when
that money is invested by the state treasury in the public pension
trusts. The proceeds reduce the government's liability to the
public pension trusts with no increase in the total financial
obligations of the state.
HB 13 will also go to the Governor's office to be signed into
Clean, More Affordable Energy - Members of the Senate
Bipartisan Working Group called on Governor Sarah Palin to consider
more options for bringing North Slope natural gas reserves to
The Senate Resources Committee introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution
22 this week. It calls on the administration to amend its call
for the upcoming special session to include in-state gas pipeline
proposals and to formulate a plan for the distribution of natural
gas throughout the state.
Senate Resources Chairman Charlie Huggins says Alaskans are asking
the Legislature to change course and also look at a bullet line
and other in-state pipeline options that deliver a plentiful
and more affordable energy supply to Alaskans.
Earlier this session, Enstar made a presentation to the Senate
Resources Committee on its evolving plan to build a 24 inch gas
pipeline from the Foothills region of the North Slope to its
distribution network in Southcentral Alaska. Enstar's proposal
uses private sector financing and does not seek any state
SCR 22 moved over to the House for its consideration.
Open Caucus The Senate Bipartisan Working Group
held another in its series of open caucuses on Tuesday. The topic
was House Joint Resolution 28. HJR 28 seeks to turn the state's
Constitutional Budget Reserve into an endowment fund. The caucus
also discussed other long term fiscal planning issues. The bill
is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Purple Heart Trail The Legislature completed work
on a bill to honor our wounded veterans. Senate Bill 216, which
designates the Alaska Highway from Fairbanks to the Canadian
Border a part of the nationwide Purple Heart Trail. The Purple
Heart is awarded to soldiers who are killed or wounded by enemy
fire, and 44 states have included all or part of their interstate
highway system in this honorary designation. SB 216 was sponsored
by Senator Johnny Ellis.
Decoration of Honor - The Alaska Legislature unanimously
passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 18, a resolution allowing
for the presentation of the Alaska Decoration of Honor to the
170 Alaskan service men and women killed in action since statehood.
Senator Bill Wielechowski is the prime sponsor. Thirty other
legislators signed on as co-sponsors.
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