- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 15, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Legislation calling for structured draws from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund to help pay for state government has passed the state Senate.

Wednesday’s 12-8 vote followed extended debate, some of which Gov. Bill Walker watched from a Senate gallery.

Walker supports using Alaska Permanent Fund earnings as part of a plan to address Alaska’s multibillion-dollar deficit. He praised the Senate’s action.

The bill calls for draws based on a percentage of the fund’s market value. Annual dividends Alaskans receive would be capped at $1,000 for three years and then based on a portion of the draw.

The measure also seeks to limit future spending.

Supporters see use of fund earnings as unavoidable given the deficit. But criticism came from those who want more cuts to state spending first or who contend a more balanced fiscal plan is needed.

The House is working on a permanent fund bill that also calls for an income tax, something Senate leaders have shown no interest in.

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