Alaska governor proposes cutting nearly 330 state positions amid crash in oil prices

EnergyAssociated Press

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has proposed eliminating 329 state positions as part of a spending package that is still expected to require billions of dollars from savings as the state struggles to meet ends amid plunging oil prices.

The state relies on oil revenue to fund about 90 percent of state government.

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Walker proposed cutting $239 million in unrestricted state general funds for agency costs from the current year. That category of funding refers to money that isn't restricted in its use.

Total spending is proposed at $10.4 billion.

Walker plans to speak about the proposal during a Thursday news conference. The proposal is a starting point for talks, one that lawmakers have been eagerly anticipating from the new governor.

Some lawmakers have suggested the overall cuts might not be deep enough.

Walker's office, in a release, said the administration focused on reducing overhead and administrative costs before reducing services.

Walker said the administration will work to minimize layoffs by eliminating vacant positions and reducing others through retirements, resignations or transfers.

Alaska faces multibillion-dollar budget deficits for this year and next amid a crash in oil prices.

Walker and lawmakers have been bracing the public for cuts and plans to slim-down the size of government. While Alaska has billions in the constitutional budget reserve fund to dip into, spending levels and oil prices will help dictate how long those savings last.