Budget Politics Shift as Federal Deficit Recedes, State Surpluses Appear

This week saw the case for budget austerity at both the state and federal levels continue to rapidly fall apart. A new Congressional Budget Office report showed that the federal budget deficit problem may not actually be that much of a problem anymore, and debates over what to do with budget surpluses began to percolate in the states as treasuries started to count tax revenues that came in last month, even as the pain from sequestration cuts also continued to be felt in all fifty states:

Alaska Center for Public Policy

advancing public policy that benefits low- and medium-income Alaskans

AK: 25,000 sign up for state credit protection after data lost

The Anchorage Daily News:

More than 25,000 anxious public employees and retirees have signed up for credit protection services after a state contractor last year lost personal data on 77,000 current and former state, municipal and school employees, state officials say.


AK: Parnell Signs Bills to Aid Youth Court, Traumatized Jurors

Gov. Sean Parnell signed a pair of bills Monday, one of which set up a youth court funding mechanism through court fines while the other established a counseling program for jurors in emotionally traumatic trials.

Senate Bill 257, sponsored by District B Democratic Sen. Dennis Egan and District 4 Republican Rep. Cathy Muñoz, sets up a process that allows 25 percent of court fines to help fund youth court. Currently, adult criminal fines belong to the  unrestricted general fund.

States Decide on High Risk Pools

The choice of whether or not to establish high-risk insurance pools represents the first major decision that states are facing with the March 2010 passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). While twenty-nine governors -- 22 Democrats and 7 Republicans -- decided to create the pools themselves, most conservative governors failed to take advantage of the option to shape health care for their constituents and instead just kicked the issue back to the federal government, which will establish its own high-risk insurance pool in states that fail to take action.

2010 Legislative Session Roundup: Alaska

Unlike most states in the country, Alaska was able to increase spending and maintain a surplus due to increased gas and oil tax revenue. However, the state has not been immune from the economic impact of the downturn as the unemployment rate has increased over the past year and reached 8.6 percent in March.  Nevertheless, the state took significant steps to protect children, expand health care access, and establish a statewide energy efficiency plan.