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Governor Dunleavy’s Budget Amendments Strengthen the Public Defender Agency, the Office of Public Advocacy, and the Ferry System

Feb 15, 2023

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy introduced $117 million in total Undesignated General Fund (UGF) Amendments as part of a package of budget amendments introduced to the Legislature today.

“Today’s amended budget proposal reflects that we are listening and responding to Alaskans in real-time,” said Governor Dunleavy. “This budget will fortify that effort by adding resources to the Office of Public Advocacy, the Public Defender Agency, the Department of Health Division of Public Assistance, and the Alaska Marine Highway System match. We are also adding resources for public safety, renewable energy grants, 404 Primacy, Medicaid rates, and more to better the lives of Alaskans.”

Office of Public Advocacy (OPA) and the Public Defender Agency (PDA)

The Governor’s amended budget includes $8.3 million across two fiscal years to increase the hourly pay and case caps for contract attorneys to become competitive in the current job market. This provides the same 20 percent raise to contract attorneys as given to state attorneys.

Department of Health, Division of Public Assistance

The Administration is amending $9 million for the Division of Public Assistance in the Operating Budget to increase capacity for eligibility determinations to help address the backlog. Additionally, $54 million is included in the Capital Budget to fully finish migrating the Division’s eligibility system from the outdated legacy system and into AIRES, a database, for full implementation into one, more modern system.

Alaska Marine Highway System Match (AMHS)

The Administration is using three sources to match the AMHS federal funding: matching the federal grants related to building new vessels with money in the vessel replacement fund, matching the operating costs with existing revenues, and matching capital projects with a toll credit system in federal law.

Other Notable Amendments

  • $7.5 million for a Department of Public Safety patrol vessel replacement
  •  $10 million ($5 million each) to Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) and Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA)
  • $7.5 million for Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) Renewable Energy Grants
  • $8 million for wildfire suppression
  • $24.4 million for Medicaid rates and match
  • $5 million for State assumption of Section 404 Permitting Primacy
  • $2.8 million for 10 more VPSOs and housing allowances
  • $250,000 to assign a dedicated Alaska State Trooper to investigate in-custody inmate deaths and reported felony and misdemeanant criminal cases within the correctional facilities.

View the Fiscal Year 2024 Amended Budget page here.
View the FY24 budget page here.