ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A fund that provides scholarships for Alaskan students, a fund that helps rural Alaskans with their power bills, a fund that aims to help people stop smoking -- all these accounts and more are set to be emptied unless 45 lawmakers vote to stop it.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) confirmed that 53 accounts would be “swept” due to the Legislature’s inability to pass the “reverse sweep” before June 30, an annual vote that stops accounts being emptied into the Constitutional Budget Reserve.
On Tuesday, around 12,000 students received a notification from the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education that their scholarships would stop being delivered through the 2020 fiscal year.
OMB also confirmed that the $1 billion Power Cost Equalization (PCE) Fund would also be swept. The fund helps rural Alaskans pay down exorbitant power bills.
“Without a compromise, there will be no Power Cost Equalization benefits this winter, dramatically increasing energy prices on rural residents,” read a joint statement released by Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, and House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham.
The PCE was also chosen as the funding source for the crime bill passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor into law on Monday.
Lawmakers, including Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, have blamed Gov. Mike Dunleavy and his administration for having chosen which accounts to empty.
On social media, the governor hit back against the claim. “Rhetoric on “reverse sweep” is incorrect,” wrote the governor, before continuing to write that "the power of appropriation lies solely with the Legislature, not the Governor. #AKLeg has failed to adequately fund these programs.”
According to OMB, the dozens of impacted funds will not be deposited into the Congressional Budget Reserve until late August or early September.
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