Senate passes budget, motion funding $1,100 PFD fails

The Alaska Senate during a floor session on June 16, 2021. (Screen capture Gavel Alaska)

The Alaska Senate passed a state budget by a margin of one vote on Wednesday, the day after the House passed it. 

This year’s permanent fund dividend would be $525 if the Legislature doesn’t add more funding later. 

A motion that would have funded the dividend at $1,100 failed to receive support of three-quarters of the members of each chamber, which was required for it to pass. 

A program to lower the cost of electricity in high-cost areas and university scholarships also are not funded in the budget due to the failure of the votes to draw from the Constitutional Budget Reserve. 

Lawmakers in both chambers have said they support funding these programs. But a compromise may not be possible before Friday. The special session must end by then. 

That means the Power Cost Equalization program and university scholarships may not be funded starting on July 1, the first day of the new budget. 

The Senate budget approval came after drama. It failed in an earlier vote. But Bethel Democratic Sen. Lyman Hoffman moved to rescind the vote. On the second vote, Hoffman changed from no to yes, allowing it to pass, 11 to 6.

Hoffman has said the state should make changes that would allow for higher dividends without drawing down the amount of money available in the permanent fund’s earnings reserve.

Andrew Kitchenman

State Government Reporter, Alaska Public Media & KTOO

State government plays an outsized role in the life of Alaskans. As the state continues to go through the painful process of deciding what its priorities are, I bring Alaskans to the scene of a government in transition.

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