The House and Senate are working on closing out the FY 19 department budget subcommittee reports. The House is taking public testimony on the FY 19 budgets this week. From there the FY 19 budgets will go to the House floor for a vote. The Senate is scheduling final close out of the department budgets for next week with public testimony on the proposed FY 19 budget not yet scheduled.
On the House side, several changes were made to the education budget. At Governor Walker’s request, the subcommittee added one research analyst position to collect additional information on school performance at a cost of $97,000. An additional $250,000 in receipt authority was added for the Mt. Edgecumbe High School aquatic center. $105,000 in funding was restored for a grant-in-aid museum program that assists small museums. The University of Alaska received an additional $19 million in funding. All major funding items for education remain flat funded (ie; pupil transportation, foundation formula, pre-kindergarten). In the subcommittee process, the Senate added funding for community revenue sharing. The revenue sharing program helps communities meet the needs of their regions, including contributions to school funding. Next week many committees are also reviewing candidates for a variety of boards and commissions.
Although everyone was originally hopeful that the legislative session would adjourn in 90 days the two sides appear to be moving further apart. Both sides agree that some use of the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve needs to occur this year but there is no agreement on how that should be accomplished. The House wants any use of the PFD Earnings Reserve to be paired with some form of tax. The Senate maintains that no tax is needed because the price of oil and other revenues has been higher than originally anticipated. The Senate also maintains that the FY 19 budget needs to be further reduced and state government down sized before any tax is implemented. These opposing views may eventually lead to a deadlock down the road.
Full report contains an updated list of education related bills.