JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Members of the Alaska House have proposed spending about $700 million from a new federal aid package to help nonprofit organizations, local governments and tourism-related organizations.
The draft plan, introduced in the House Finance Committee on Friday, differs from Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s broad outline to use the funds to aid businesses and infrastructure investments, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Last month, Congress passed the relief package, which included $1 billion in economic aid to Alaska. The draft committee proposal would save the rest of the money for spending next year.
The proposal includes substituting federal money for tax dollars in parts of the budget to free about $230 million for the state capital budget and $175 million for possible use for Permanent Fund dividends, the yearly checks paid to residents from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund.
The plan also includes allocating $80 million for local governments, $30 million for nonprofit organizations, $30 million in grants to small businesses, $20 million for local economic development organizations to promote tourism in the state and more.
Senate President Peter Micciche, a Republican, said senators would prefer to reserve about half of the $1 billion for next year. Debates over the budget are expected to begin next week, taking over the final weeks of the Legislature’s regular session.
Whatever passes the House would still need to go to the Senate. Dunleavy could veto elements of the eventual plan lawmakers send him.
Issues many lawmakers saw heading into session as critical to address or settle, such as Alaska’s long-running deficit and the future of the yearly oil check paid to residents from the state’s oil-wealth fund, have been overshadowed. Some lawmakers previously said the influx of new federal money should not be seen as an excuse to delay tough fiscal decisions.
The Alaska Legislature is scheduled to adjourn May 19.