EDITOR, Daily News:

Earlier this week, the Alaska House of Representatives passed the operating budget. It took the House 43 days of session to pass the budget, which is the fastest we have passed one since 1993. I am proud with how quickly, efficiently and cooperatively we worked to get it done.

The budget is $4.45 billion in Unrestricted General Funds, which reflects total state spending. It is a relatively flat budget that is similar to last year and within $10 million of the governor’s proposal.

Despite the limited spending, we were also able to add back funds for services that we prioritize. One of the most important increases was the $18.7 million to our Alaska Marine Highway System. Pioneer Homes received an additional $5 million. We restored $1 million of the $2.7 million that was vetoed by Gov. Dunleavy last year for public radio. The Ocean Ranger Program was reinstated. We increased our Village Public Safety Officer program by $1 million and added monies to the Alaska State Troopers to hire an additional 36 positions.

The House operating budget did not include a dividend amount, and we will address that appropriation in a different bill this session. Now the operating budget goes over to the Senate for its input. If you have any comments or questions regarding the House budget, feel free to email me at Rep.Dan.Ortiz@AKLeg.gov or call my office.

REP. DAN ORTIZ

House District 36

Ketchikan