Here's the challenge. . .

Alaska Budget Choices 2.0

Doesn’t it seem that things grind to a halt over the state’s budget every legislative session? And key in that political battle is the Permanent Fund dividend amount.

Three years ago, Commonwealth North asked Alaskans their choices to balance the budget (click here to see what you said). At that time, the state was looking at a $1.3 billion deficit; general purpose revenue (or Unrestricted General Funds, or UGF) was about $1.2 billion; and Permanent Fund earnings was $3.1 billion.

Today, the revenue picture is better (at least in the short term). Revenues are higher--$2.7 billion in UGF and $3.5 billion in Permanent Fund earnings. The FY 24 budget is projected to have a $300 million surplus at year-end. But spending also is higher. The operating budget grew 8%; capital budget grew 199% ($240 million); and spending for dividends grew 30%.

Alaskans can expect these budget battles to continue. Budget Choices 2.0 revisits many of the same choices offered three years ago, as well as some new ones. You will start by deciding how much should be spent on Permanent Fund dividends; this choice will determine the amount of spending increases or cuts needed to balance your budget.

We know there are other options, but we chose to focus on program areas with the greatest impact on filling a gap. After completing your budget choices, there's a place to add other suggestions you may have.

The confidential budget choices submitted by Alaskans will be shared with the Governor and Legislature. By better understanding the difficult choices they will make in Juneau and sharing your preferences here, it’s our hope that we can help chart a path toward fiscal stability in Alaska's future.

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