This evening, incoming Senate President Sen. Pete Kelly issued a statement following up on comments made Thursday by one of Governor Bill Walker’s top fiscal policy advisors, Director of the Alaska Department of Revenue’s Tax Division Ken Alper, about the state’s over $4 Billion budget deficit. In those comments, Alper said lawmakers need to focus on new revenues to close the state’s over $4 Billion budget deficit , including a restructuring of the Permanent Fund to use some of the fund’s revenues for other state functions.
In his response, Sen. Kelly expressed strong agreement with Alper’s comments on the use of the Permanent Fund saying:
“I support the administration’s persistence in pursuing a fiscal plan for Alaska’s future. Alaskans understand we’re facing tough fiscal times. While there are a lot of possible solutions on the table, the Senate agrees that a measure to protect dividends and reduce the budget gap is the first step.”
Interestingly, while Kelly is known to be a staunch fiscal conservative and leads what is viewed by many to be a solidly conservative caucus, he never the less refers to use of Permanent Fund revenues as a “first step” in this year’s budget discussions. His statement also doesn’t include any reference to holding down or cutting state government spending at all.
Here is Kelly’s full press release:
For Immediate Release: December 2, 2016
Incoming Sen. President Kelly Echoes Priority of Permanent Fund Plan
FAIRBANKS — Incoming Alaska Senate President Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) issued the following statement today in response to comments by a Walker administration official on Thursday, urging support for a plan to restructure the Permanent Fund to reduce Alaska’s budget shortfall.
“I support the administration’s persistence in pursuing a fiscal plan for Alaska’s future. Alaskans understand we’re facing tough fiscal times. While there are a lot of possible solutions on the table, the Senate agrees that a measure to protect dividends and reduce the budget gap is the first step.
“The Senate followed through on that priority in June, when we took a bold step passing legislation restructuring the way money is distributed from the Permanent Fund. This was the starting point to setting Alaska back on a strong fiscal course but, unfortunately, the House did not take action.
“We get to try again this year, and I support the Governor prioritizing this important first step. I also look forward to working with him — and with the House — on a Permanent Fund plan, so that we can focus on other important measures.”