Legislature Passes Budgets for FY17

By late Tuesday afternoon both the senate and the house passed the operating (HB 256), mental health (HB 257), and capital budgets (SB 138). They are now awaiting transmittal to Governor Walker.


The operating budget includes funding for the $50 BSA increase. The foundation formula is fully funded with $1,163,984,500, using undesignated general funds (UGF). There is a total of $1,020,000 for Best Beginnings and Parents as Teachers, $2 million for Pre-K grants, and $761,800 for Online with Libraries.

When House Speaker Mike Chenault was asked during a press conference after session if the $50 increase to the BSA and the early education items were just used as a negotiating tool to get the House Minority to vote for a draw from the Constitutional Budget Reserve, and if they would have been included in the budget anyway since some majority members support those items, Speaker Chenault said he couldn’t say. He said people know in this time of deficit spending that they need to cut back and look at all budget items. He won’t assign motive to any of it. The legislature supports K-12 education, but they also support trying to craft a budget that they are able to maintain long-term. He said a number of majority members would like to see an increase to K-12 and university spending, but in the times they are in, it’s pretty tough. Education seems to always be part of the negotiations to be able to get out of Juneau. 

The operating budget is reduced by $418 million from FY16, with a total budget of $4.3 billion for FY17. The capital budget contains $130 million in unrestricted general funds (UGF) and designated general funds (DGF), and $1.3 billion in federal matching funds.

During house floor discussion on the capital budget, Rep. Gara said it’s one of the smallest capital budgets in the last 15 years. The state doesn’t have a lot of money, and it’s an appropriately-sized capital budget.