The Fine Print . . .
For this project, the "fiscal gap" is estimated at $1.3 billion in unrestricted general funds (UGF), which is the difference between estimated UGF revenue and the state spending the same amount next fiscal year (FY22). This deficit is in revenue/spending from "unrestricted general funds." Other revenue, such as Federal funds and user/program fees, are not included as part of this discussion (thought it is a potential topic for another CWN study). Federal funds are mostly driven by formulas/specific purposes set by Congress. Program and user fees are designated for specific programs. UGF is available to fund any public purpose.
UPDATE (January 2021)
Since the website was first released, the Department of Revenue issued a new revenue forecast that projects the state will have $147 million less in UGF for the current and next fiscal year. On the up side, the Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund is anticipated to have a nearly $1 billion balance. In spite of these "smallish" UGF changes in revenue, the challenge remains the same. As a result, and to provide continuity in responses, the Budget Choices website was not changed to reflect the updated revenue forecast.
The spending options listed primarily are the bigger ticket items in the operating budget. These expenses recur every year. There are other areas of spending that weren't included (such as the capital budget, retirement system contributions, and other department programs). Revenue options are focused on those that would be recurring versus spending down one-time revenue and reserves. You have the option to provide other suggestions for spending or revenue in the "other" box at the end of the choices.
The confidential responses will be collated and reported to the Governor and Legislature. To that end, we are requiring participants to provide their zip code so we can regionalize the responses by legislative district.
For More Budget Information . . .
Comprehensive Accounting and Financial Report 2019
Complete information concerning the State's financial management
Fiscal Summary 2021
Legislative Finance Division's summary of state spending's moving parts
Fiscal Outlook Presentation - May 8, 2020
Legislative Finance overview that kicked off the Study Group's work; the top two bullets on page 11 are what provided the framework for defining the $1.3 billion shortfall
Fiscal Note to House Bill 246 introduced by the Governor in 2020 to create a lottery
Medicaid Optional and Mandatory Services
Summary that lists services, costs, number of participants, who is paying
Permanent Fund Primer
Background about the Fund; distinction between principal and earnings
Revenue Forecast Spring 2020
Updated information but not as detailed as the Fall forecast; these are the UGF numbers used for this project
Revenue Forecast Winder 2020
Full forecast that will be the basis for the Legislature's budget deliberations in the 2021 session
Tax Options Presentation
Tax Division Director Glover compiled information from past legislative discussions
Tax Division's Annual Report
Great information, data, history about Alaska's taxes
UGF Revenue Worksheet
This is the worksheet Commonwealth North's Study Group used; data provided by the Department of Revenue