AK: Permanent Fund resources in play with new bill

ANCHORAGE — A new bill introduced by the House Finance Committee would allow the legislature to withdraw money from the Alaska Permanent fund in the event that the House is unable to achieve the three-quarters vote needed to access the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR). This proposal comes after the House was unable to reach an agreement after a contentious, all-day floor debate.

In the event a three-quarters vote is not achieved, HB 2002 would authorize the transfer of nearly $2 billion  from the Permanent Fund Earnings Account (from which permanent fund dividends are distributed) to the Permanent Fund Principal Account, which cannot be spent. The transfer would be split up between the next two fiscal years, with almost $5 million transferring in FY 2015 and $1.5 billion transferring in FY 2016.

By making this section of the bill effective on June 30th of this year, accessing funds in the CBR can occur in order to fund the deficit, per Article IX Section 17(b) of the state constitution. This section states:

If the amount available for appropriation for a fiscal year is less than the
amount appropriated for the previous fiscal year, an appropriation may be
made from the budget reserve fund. However, the amount appropriated
from the fund under this subsection may not exceed the amount necessary,
when added to other funds available for appropriation, to provide for total
appropriations equal to the amount of appropriations made in the previous
calendar year for the previous fiscal year.

This allows for the use of CBR funds in the event of a deficit. Most importantly it can be done with a simple majority vote.

A public hearing on HB 2002 has been delayed until a time to be determined by the Chair.