(Juneau) - Alaska House Majority Caucus leadership released the following statements today upon adoption by the House of the conference committee reports on HB 108 and HB 109, the Fiscal Year 2012 statewide operations and mental health trust operations budgets.
We have passed a restrained budget, backstopped savings for the future and taken a long-term look at funding with passage of department review legislation during the regular session. Now? Let's finish our business in Juneau.
~ Rep. Mike Chenault
House Speaker Mike Chenault
"Today's vote satisfies our constitutional duty. Passage of the FY2012 Operating Budget also reinforces our caucus's Guiding Principles. Fiscal Responsibility is at the top of the list, and this budget comes in below the governor's proposal while protecting the core services and programs that Alaskans have come to enjoy. We have passed a restrained budget, backstopped savings for the future and taken a long-term look at funding with passage of department review legislation during the regular session. Now? Let's finish our business in Juneau."
House Majority Leader Alan Austerman
"Our Guiding Principles - what we have decided to measure our decisions against - are all encompassed with the passage of the operating budget. Promoting Sage & Healthy Communities is accomplished with our funding for public safety, health and social services and others; promoting Excellent Schools and Workforce Development is accomplished through funding for K-12 and the University, and the Department of Labor and Voc. Tech schools; providing Access to Affordable Energy is accomplished through funding DOT, DNR and programs in Commerce and DH&SS; and, promoting Responsible Resource Development is also accomplished through DNR funding on intent language relating to permit backlogs and coastal management funding. It may have taken longer than we intended, but the Majority remained strong and united, delivering on our commitment to each other and Alaskans."
House Finance Committee Operating Budget Co-Chair Bill Thomas
"This compromise budget reflects the needs of all areas of Alaska and shows the conference committee process works. We began with more than 280 differences, yet still found a way to come in under the governor's agency operations proposal (what Alaskans think of when they hear 'state operating budget') while satisfying all three sides - House, Senate, and Governor. The bill is responsible and slows the growth of government, invests wisely in services Alaskans want, and saves for our future. More hard work will be needed, because HB 108 comes in at a big number for total spending: The $9 billion spent for FY12 invests $5.75 billion in state general funds or, more than $16,800 for every Alaskan resident worker. We listened to Alaskan's and responded by taking care of as many needs as we could, while still keeping an eye on spending. People need to understand how much money we invest in the operating budget and think about their wants and what is truly needed. Alaskan's need to decide what level of government they are comfortable with, recognizing we have an uncertain fiscal future."
House Finance Committee Capital Budget Co-Chair Bill Stoltze
"Today's vote is one more positive step toward a long overdue completion of the 2011 legislative session. Co-chair Bill Thomas has my thanks and appreciation. Glaring omissions, which the Senate refused to include like the instate gas line and performance scholarship funding are a disappointment."