Business group, think tank applaud Dunleavy's balanced budget

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - As educators and health care professionals worry about the deep cuts proposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy Wednesday, a business group and a think tank are applauding his efforts to curb spending, while Senate Republicans say they look forward to digging into the spending plan.

The Alaska Chamber issued a release Wednesday applauding Dunleavy’s effort to release a spending plan that matches current revenues. “This action will surely prompt necessary and critical conversations that must occur across Alaska in order to achieve a durable and sustainable fiscal plan,” the organization wrote.

The Alaska Chamber, which represents hundreds of businesses large and small across Alaska, says in addition to the reduced state spending, it also supports a meaningful spending cap on operating expenses.

The Alaska Policy Forum, an Alaska-based think tank, also commends the balanced budget proposal.

"It is reassuring to see that the administration has embraced fiscal responsibility with this budget," wrote AFP Executive Director Bethany Marcum. "Alaskans are tired of deficit spending and this governor clearly means business."

A board member of the group also said in the release that it was noteworthy that the budget contains no new taxes. "A balanced budget for the state like what he proposed is just what the private sector needs to thrive and grow," wrote board member Dr. Jess Ellis.

Senate Republicans took a more measured approach, saying that now that the budget proposal is available, “we can get to work taking it apart and understanding the impacts.”

“The Senate Majority is committed to protecting the Permanent Fund and dividends for future generations of Alaskans, passing a sustainable budget in both the short and long-term, increasing jobs and growing the economy, and keeping Alaskans and their families safe,” wrote Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, in a release. Stedman is a co-chair of the Senate Finance committee, tasked with a number of bills to achieve Dunleavy’s budget proposal.

Among the bills introduced at the governor’s request Wednesday are bills that would repeal the senior benefits payment program (SB 58); repeal statutes that reimburse costs of capital projects for the University of Alaska, municipalities and power projects (SB 59); and repeal the credits municipalities receive for property taxes collected on properties used for oil and gas exploration, production and pipeline transportation (SB 57).

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