The 32nd Alaska State Legislature sprinted to the finish late in the evening on May 18, 2022. After dramatic twists and turns that kept Alaskans on the edge of their seats, a flurry of bills passed at the last minute, including the one constitutionally mandated piece of legislation- the state budget.
The final version of the FY23 budget Governor Dunleavy must now consider is a big one. Coming in at $8.4 billion, it is the 10th largest in state history when adjusted for inflation.
Let’s start with the one issue most Alaskans want clarity on- how much is this year’s PFD? The answer is each eligible Alaskan should receive about $3,200 later this year.
Earlier in the session, it appeared possible the House and Senate were ready to settle on a $5,500 payment, but lawmakers arrived at a lower amount after days of negotiations and a tense, failed vote to spend money from savings to pay for it.
Of course, the reason for the big debate about how much to spend, how much to save, and how much to distribute to Alaskans in dividends was due to the surge in oil revenue brought about by high oil prices.
Vetoes still possible
Gov. Dunleavy could still veto parts of the budget in the coming days, which could lower the total, and the figure could climb next spring during the Legislature’s annual supplemental budget process. In other words, none of these numbers is set in stone. The PFD amount, however, is something Alaskans can take to the bank, literally.
What else happened?
Besides the budget and PFD drama, what else did the legislature accomplish? Here’s an admittedly abbreviated list of highlights:
· Alcohol regulation reform (this bill has been ten years in the making)
· Updated definition of sexual consent
· Tribal recognition
· Alaska Reads Act (reading early intervention bill)
· Funding for the Port of Alaska Modernization Project (Anchorage Port)
· Higher Education Investment Fund preserved
· Limit child marriage
· Increased rural power subsidies
2022 will be a wild election year in Alaska, even by our state’s standards. Because of the 10-year redistricting process that redraws legislative district lines, 59 out of 60 legislators must run for re-election (Congratulate Sen. Donny Olson of Golovin for being the lucky one able to relax this summer.) Throw in a few notable retirements (Reps. Ivy Spohnholz and Tiffany Zulkosky have already announced their decisions not to run again,) a high-profile U.S. Senate race, a gubernatorial election, the prospect of electing a new Congressman for the first time in almost 50 years, unlimited political donations thanks to a Supreme Court decision allowing them, and a new voting system (ranked choice voting) being rolled out statewide for the first time, and it’s going be interesting, to say the least. Of course, we love this stuff and will be tracking it in real time, so watch our newsletter/website/social channels for updates.