Senate Finance Committee Room

Historical Self-Guided Tour Location #4

Text-only: Please enter the Senate Finance Committee room and have a seat on one of the benches.   

The large committee table in front of you seats 7 Senators who comprise the Senate Finance committee.  The Finance Committee vets every bill that would have a financial impact to the State of Alaska including the budgets every year.  This is a very important and powerful committee.   
Like many other rooms in this building, the legislature was not the original occupant. 
This room was previously a State Superior courtroom.  The judge’s bench was against the far wall which was very tall and intimidating. The benches you sit in today served as gallery seating for the courtroom.  Adjoining offices were for the jury room and the judge’s chambers.  This was a courtroom until end of 1975 when the courts moved into the state court building across the street.  Once the court system moved into their own building, the legislature expanded, and this became the room it is today.   
At about the time that the court moved out and the finance committee moved in, the legislature was deep in policy decisions related to the discovery of oil and the under-construction pipeline.   Unlike other states, private landowners do not own sub-surface natural resource rights.  The State maintains rights to the natural resources found in its land. In 1976, voters passed a constitutional amendment to establish the Alaska Permanent Fund- an investment fund that oil revenue proceeds would be deposited into.  In 1982, the legislature passed a law that enacted the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend- a check sent to every Alaskan each year. After a prolonged period of depressed oil prices, declining revenue, and dwindling savings accounts, the legislature has in recent years moved to rely less on direct oil revenues to fund state government.  The funds value was over $75 billion dollars as of 3/31/2023. 
Next: This is the end of the Senate Finance historical tour audio stop. From here, follow the hallway and proceed all the way to the room at the opposite end of the floor- the Al Adams House Finance Committee Room (Room 519). 

Remember to keep your voice down in the hall and stairs- this is an active office space for the legislature and the Governor’s office even when the legislature isn’t in session.