Tips for understanding the mumbo jumbo of Alaska budget

Glossary of Budget Terms

Even if you’re not a numbers geek you’ll likely find something interesting and readable about the state’s Fiscal Year 2015 and the 2016 budgets on the Office of Management and Budget’s website.

I’ve had lots of fun reading through them and encourage you to do likewise. Now before you freak out about all that budget mumbo jumbo and those huge dollar amounts, let me remind you of “Maggie’s Rule for Reading Legislative Stuff”.

Go to the site, glance around for something that catches your eye and skim through it. If it’s interesting and makes sense great, you’ve learned something new. If it’s boring or totally incomprehensible, skip it. Don’t feel guilty or dumb or anything, just move on. There are plenty of pages and lots of really cool stuff on the state’s website, so feel free to cherry-pick your reading material.

Speaking of reading material. I found an informative glossary of budget words on the OMB’s website. Let’s look at some of those words.

First of all Office of Management and Budget which is also called OMB. That’s the division within the Governor’s Office that is responsible for preparing the Governor’s budget. That explains why all the budget information and assorted attachments and background info is posted on the OMB website.

Appropriation is a word we hear a lot of as is allocation and they work together. An appropriation is the statutory authorization to spend a specific amount of money for a stated purpose. Funds may not be spent without an appropriation made by law and it’s the Alaska Legislature that makes those laws. I especially like the phrase “a specific amount of money for a stated purpose”.

An allocation is a sub-unity of an appropriation in appropriation bills. In other words, the legislature states this amount of money will be spent on this specific purpose, and the allocation makes guidelines for divvying the money up, but generally doesn’t micromanage.

And finally, one more appropriation related term lapse. Lapse is the expiration of the authorization to spend funds. Used in a sentence…Operating appropriations lapse at the end of the fiscal year unless otherwise specified. In other words spend it or lose it.

These Budget Terms come from a glossary on the OMB’s website where you’ll find info on all kinds of things related to the state’s budget.




Glossary of Alaska Budget Words

A listing of words that you may want to have around when reading the state’s budget. Mostly, the glossary is easy to understand, though there are a few phrases that only an accountant could understand.

Alaska Office of Management and Budget (OMB) page with info on Alaska Operating and Capital Budgets and other budget information



First Alaska Legislators Treked to Juneau

Click on Link below to DOWNLOAD  The Daily Radio Show for Tues. Jan. 10, 2012.

TLHR Jan 10 Tues First Legislators Trek to Juneau 1 of 2

Alaska legislators and staff often brag about their trip to Juneau. You know, driving at 20 below and not seeing another car all day. Or running into a stretch of whiteout where they don’t see anything past the windshield wipers.

Alaska’s First Territorial Legislature 1913. Photo courtesy Alaska Digital Archives.

But that’s nothing compared to what Alaska’s first territorial legislators went through to get to Juneau.

The first territorial legislature met in 1913. It’s said that the hardest part of the session was the trek from outlying areas to Juneau. The average lawmaker traveling more than 2500 miles round trip. While in 1913 EVERYONE would have had trouble getting into Juneau, think of the poor guys from, say, Nome who had to first get to Fairbanks, then to Anchorage, then on to Juneau.

The website, which is a site owned by the Alaska Humanities Forum, explains it this way…

Three of the legislators-to-be left Nome by dog team in early January. They crossed Norton Sound to Unalakleet and traveled the Yukon River and then the Tanana River to Fairbanks. They covered 700 to 900 miles just to reach Fairbanks. One senator walked from roadhouse to roadhouse along the winter trail to Fairbanks. From there they went 360 miles by horse-drawn sleigh to Valdez, a journey that took a week, and caught a steamer to Juneau. They arrived the day before the Legislature began.

As you can imagine, the first legislative session didn’t begin in mid-January as it does now.

They began their work on March 3, 1913, meeting in the Elks Building. The next day, 3,000 miles away in Washington, D.C., Woodrow Wilson was sworn in as the 27th president of the United States.

Thanks to for today’s information. It’s a great site to visit, with lots of interesting bits of Alaska trivia.




Alaska History and Cultural Studies ( has scads of interesting information about Alaska’s history and early days of state government.

VILDA is the repository for the Alaska’s digital archives. If you go to the site, plan to be there a long time, as there are countless interesting photos, videos and mp3 audio selections.


Why not put your name in for a board or commission

New bipartisan adminstration means new opportunities to get in on the ground floor of Alaska policies and decision-making

How to apply for position on an Alaska board or commission

Place to get information on the various Alaska boards and commissions and how to apply.

More Information

Wednesday is Constitution Day

Wednesday is Constitution Day

Photo courtesy Constitution Week


How much do you know about the U.S. Constitution?


Here’s a great resource: Lesson Plans and Activities for Constitution Week from the Constitution Center.

The LegHead Report for Wed. Sept. 17 Constitution Day — School House Rock

The LegHead Report for Thurs. Sept. 18 —  We the People

The LegHead Report for Fri. Sept. 19 — Constitution Facts


Can you pass the U.S.  Naturalization Test?



National Guard Report Released

National Guard Report Released

Graph Above: Percentage of Alaska National Guard survey participants who perceive three or more barriers to reporting sexual assaults within the guard.


The top officer of the Alaska National Guard was forced out by Governor Sean Parnell following last week’s release of the finding of an investigation of misconduct and sexual assault of Alaska Guard members.

Governor Sean Parnell released the findings Sept. 4, and took the resignation of the adjutant general, Major General Thomas H. Katkus.


The LegHead Report for Mon. Sept. 8 Gov. Parnell releases findings of special report.  1 of 5 Parts

The LegHead Report for Tues. Sept. 9 Gov. Special report find most National Guard members see barriers to reporting sexual assaults.  2 of 5 Parts


Link to Governor’s Press Release on Alaska National Guard

Link to Video of Press Conference

Link to Special Investigator’s Report