Continuing his commitment to limit government growth and manage Alaska's reserve funds wisely, Governor Sean Parnell today signed the budget bills into law. The approved Fiscal Year 2014 Budget is nearly $1.1 billion less in state general funds, reflecting a 14 percent decrease from the current fiscal year. With all funds including Permanent Fund dividends and federal dollars, appropriations total $13.2 billion.
"Alaska continues to maintain its position of fiscal strength and stability," Governor Parnell said. "We will continue to step down the levels of spending under our five-year fiscal plan and be wise stewards of the people's money."
The approved budget maintains a general fund spending cap of $6.8 billion set by Governor Parnell this past legislative session. The budget focuses on the administration's key priorities of resources and energy, education, public safety, transportation and infrastructure, and military support.
Resources and Energy
The capital budget includes funding for strategic investments in resource development and energy projects across the state. Funding to develop an Alaska gasline is vital to developing Alaska's gas for Alaskans and markets beyond. Continuing funding of $95.2 million for the Susitna-Watana Hydro Project will provide a long-term, stable power source for generations of Alaskans.
Funding was included, along with legislation that passed, for a North Slope natural gas liquefaction plant and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) distribution system to deliver gas via truck to Fairbanks and rural communities until an Alaska gasline is built.
Funding was also approved for the Power Cost Equalization Program, home weatherization and energy rebates, heating assistance, and renewable energy projects.
This year's K-12 education budget includes $58 million for increases in the K-12 funding formula, pupil transportation, school energy costs, and safety and security upgrades for schools. The state also funds more than $343 million for school district retirement system unfunded liability for the Public Employees' and Teachers' Retirement Systems.
Continuing the state's strong commitment to education in rural Alaska, $71.2 million is included for school construction in Nightmute, Quinahagak, and Kwethluk. $22.9 million is included for 13 schools across Alaska for major maintenance projects.
The budget prioritizes public safety. In Alaska's rural communities five Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO) positions are added, raising the total to 121 funded positions.
The Alaska State Troopers will see an increase of 16 new trooper positions, the most significant increase in years. Two of the positions are for a new trooper post in Hooper Bay, one for VPSO support, and 13 allocated between Mat-Su, Fairbanks and Kenai.
Transportation and Infrastructure
The budget includes more than $1.3 billion in transportation and infrastructure projects. Because access to Alaska's vast resources will drive economic growth, the "Roads to Resources" initiative continues to be a primary focus of the administration.
The budget includes funding for veterans services and outreach, and $2 million for the Interior Alaska Veterans Cemetery.