Capitol Report April 19, 2024

April 19, 2024

The Senate unveils their initial changes to the operating budget while the House begins review of the capital budget.

After a seamless budget swap last Friday, the House and Senate are reviewing the opposite bodies’ budgets. The House Finance Committee is reviewing the Senate’s capital budget while the Senate Finance Committee has already unveiled its own committee substitute for the operating budget. Notably, the new version provides full UGF funding for the university system’s fixed cost increases. These fixed costs include increases for cyber security, property insurance premiums, and maintenance. Simultaneously, the Senate Finance Committee removed $20 million in funding for reaching R1 research status at UAF, $3 million for teacher preparation and healthcare pilot programs at UAA, and $1.2 million for campus security improvements.  The Senate will consider member amendments to the operating budget early next week. Once the bill leaves the Finance Committee, it will be considered by the entire Senate on the chamber floor. Senators may offer additional amendments during that time. A six-person conference committee will ultimately decide any differences between the final House and Senate operating budgets. 

Priority Legislation
Extending Alaska’s Education Tax Credits Program - The Alaska Education Tax Credit (ETC) program was established by the Legislature in 1987 to encourage private businesses to make charitable contributions to support in-state educational institutions. In return, these businesses receive credits to offset their taxes. The ETC program must be renewed by the legislature every few years. Without a renewal or extension, the program is currently set to sunset on January 1, 2025.  Several bills are moving through the Legislature to either extend or remove the sunset requirement entirely:

  • Senate Bill 120, a Senate Education Bill carried by Senator Jesse Bjorkman (R-Nikiski), extends the program to January 1, 2031. It also updates the contribution limits, expanding the cap from $1 million to $5 million. SB 120 is in the Senate Finance Committee. However, it has yet to show movement since mid-February.
  • House Bill 144 by Representative Justin Ruffridge (R-Soldotna) takes an alternative approach. Rather than extending the education tax credit program sunset, it removes the sunset date entirely, extending the program in perpetuity. Notably, in this legislation, the cap for the ETC program remains at $1 million. A hearing on HB 144 has been scheduled for Monday morning in the House Finance Committee.
  • House Bill 89 by Representative Julie Coulombe (R-Anchorage) also extends the ETC program in a roundabout way. The legislation introduces a new tax credit for businesses offering childcare benefits or programs. The new tax credit is added as a subsection to several Alaska Statutes that allow businesses to claim tax credits for education programs, including the ETC program. The legislation extends the current tax credits for three years.  A hearing on the bill is scheduled on Tuesday morning in the Senate Finance Committee.

What We’re Watching
Monday, April 22

  • 9:00 a.m. - House Finance: House Bill 144: Repeal Education Tax Credits Sunset
  • 1:00 p.m. - House Judiciary - House Bill 163: FAFSA Raffle
  • 1:30 p.m. - House Finance - Senate Bill 187: Appropriations: Capital; Reappropriations / Presentation: “Fiscal Update” by Legislative Finance Division

Tuesday, April 23

  • 9:00 a.m. - Senate Finance: House Bill 89: Child Care: Tax Credit/Assistance/Grants
  • 1:30 p.m. - House Finance - Senate Bill 187: Appropriations: Capital; Reappropriations / Presentation “Historical Capital Budget Information” by Legislative Finance Division

Wednesday, April 24

  • 9:00 a.m. - Senate Finance: House Bill 268: “Appropriations: Operating Budget; Capital; Supplemental; Amended” / Presentation: “Fiscal Update” by Legislative Finance Division
  • 3:30 p.m. - Senate Resources: House Bill 50: “Carbon Storage” by Frank Paskvan, Affiliate Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks


For more information, contact Director of State Relations for the University of Alaska System Chad Hutchison: cell: 907-378-3946, email: