JUNEAU, Alaska — The Latest on Alaska’s special legislative session (all times local):
Alaska Senate President Pete Kelly says actions by the House will force lawmakers into another special session and further hamper efforts to reach a budget compromise.
Late Thursday, following months of entrenchment and bickering, a divided House voted to insert a state operating budget into the capital budget and adjourned from the special session a day before it was scheduled to end.
House Speaker Bryce Edgmon said with the threat of a government shutdown looming, it was time to get a budget passed. He hoped the Senate would accept it, but Kelly said the Senate won’t.
Kelly said the House and Senate still could have reached an agreement before the session ended and called the House’s actions unnecessary.
Gov. Bill Walker said the House “did not get the job done for Alaska.”
A divided Alaska House late Thursday approved a state spending package and adjourned from the special legislative session.
The package approved combines state operating and capital budgets.
Minority House Republicans strongly objected, calling it bad process and warning that it could tarnish relationships among lawmakers.
The move came near the end of a special legislative session marked by uneven progress with the Senate toward reaching agreement on the operating budget, which has been in a conference committee. The special session was scheduled to end Friday.
A divided Alaska House late Thursday voted to cram a state operating budget into Alaska’s capital budget.
Minority House Republicans objected to the move, calling it bad process and warning that it could tarnish relationships among lawmakers.
The move came near the end of a special legislative session marked by uneven progress with the Senate toward reaching agreement on the operating budget, which has been in a conference committee. The special session is scheduled to end Friday.
Debate on whether to approve the entire spending package was under way in the House.
Alaska Senate President Pete Kelly says he’s “very encouraged” at progress being made as lawmakers near the end of the current special session.
Kelly said Thursday that the Republican-led Senate’s highest priority is to avoid a government shutdown, and doing that means passing a state operating budget. He says the consequences of a shutdown would be devastating.
The new fiscal year starts July 1.
Gov. Bill Walker last month called lawmakers into a special session to finalize a budget and address the state’s multibillion-dollar deficit. The special session is scheduled to end Friday, with neither of those tasks completed.
Kelly told reporters the Senate is encouraged by some of the signs it’s seen from the House. He didn’t provide details.
The Alaska Senate must decide whether to accept a capital budget that would pay Alaskans a full dividend from the state’s oil-wealth fund.
The House added the dividend amendment Wednesday in passing its rewrite of the budget. Lawmakers have yet to finalize a separate state operating budget.
The special session is scheduled to end Friday. The new fiscal year starts July 1.
To this point, lawmakers have anticipated using Alaska Permanent Fund earnings to help pay for government and initially limiting the size of the dividend, traditionally paid from earnings.
But members of the House majority coalition have been reluctant to limit the dividend if the state doesn’t also overhaul oil tax policies or implement a broad-based tax, issues that have stalled.
Seven coalition members voted against the amendment.