State budget work stretches into weekend

The Alaska House of Representatives continued negotiations behind closed doorways Friday, canceling the day’s flooring session and scheduling one other for Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

“The determination of when to go on the floor is taking longer than anticipated, but the delay is not being made lightly,” stated House Majority Coalition spokesperson Joe Plesha. “The decision whether to concur or not with the Senate’s budget will have far-reaching impacts on the future of Alaska. The House Coalition was founded on the principle of fiscal responsibility and they take that obligation too seriously to rush the outcome.”

House flooring periods have been scheduled and finally canceled each day since Wednesday this week, following the Alaska Senate’s approval of the finances invoice Tuesday afternoon. Senators handed a finances with greater than $1 billion added via the modification course of, together with statutory Alaska Permanent Fund dividends of $4,300 and vitality reduction funds of $1,300.

Several lawmakers in each our bodies have been important of the invoice, calling it irresponsible, whereas defenders say the excessive worth of oil and state financial savings will cowl the associated fee. But the state not following the statutory method for dividends has been a significant sticking level for plenty of principally Republican lawmakers, and with solely 21 votes wanted to concur on the finances, there’s a chance the House may approve the finances and ship it to Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who’s repeatedly advocated for a statutory dividend.

The House Majority Coalition has solely 21 members and a few members have voted for full dividends earlier than. Likewise, some members of the Republican minority, Fairbanks Reps. Bart LeBon and Steve Thompson, have voted in opposition to statutory dividends previously.

Private organizations have weighed in with Alaska AFL-CIO and the Alaska Chamber of Commerce each issuing statements calling on lawmakers to reject the finances.

If the House does vote in opposition to the finances, the invoice will probably be negotiated by a convention committee made up of two members of the bulk from every physique — usually the co-chairs of the finance committees — and a member of the minority from every physique.

But the constitutional finish of session is May 18, and if lawmakers are unable to complete the finances course of by then they are going to have to be referred to as into particular session. Lawmakers can name themselves into particular session or the governor can difficulty a proclamation. Last 12 months, this Legislature went via 4 particular periods, essentially the most in state historical past, however this 12 months is an election 12 months, and lawmakers can’t marketing campaign whereas in session.

Contact reporter Peter Segall at Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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