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Alaska Legislature

The Alaska Legislature has passed an operating budget — what’s next?

  • Author: James Brooks
  • Updated: June 10, 2019
  • Published June 10, 2019

This sketch by an Alaska senator during the debate over House Concurrent Resolution 101 is seen Monday, June 10, 2019 in the Senate chambers. It depicts two fishing boats entangled and pulling in opposite directions. (James Brooks / ADN)

JUNEAU — With the Alaska Senate’s 20-0 vote on Monday to approve the state’s operating budget, lawmakers have checked another item off their to-do list.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy convened lawmakers into special session on June 16 and put five items on the special session agenda: education funding, the operating budget, the mental health budget, the capital budget and anti-crime legislation. With the special session (limited to 30 days) scheduled to end Friday, here’s where those items stand:

• On education funding, lawmakers and the governor are at an impasse and likely headed to a legal battle. The leaders of the House and Senate believe the Legislature funded education in advance last year; the governor contends that move was illegal and there is thus no legal funding for schools starting July 1.

• A compromise operating budget has passed the House and Senate and will go to the governor later this week. The governor may veto the budget or veto individual items.

• The mental health budget passed House and Senate this week without much debate.

• The capital construction and renovation budget passed the Senate during the regular session and remains in the House Finance Committee. It could pass the House and Senate later this week.

Anti-crime legislation passed the House and Senate at the start of the special session, and the governor has said he will sign it.

Legislation to pay this year’s Permanent Fund dividend was not on the special session agenda because it had been included in the operating budget. Now that the operating budget has passed the Legislature without a dividend amount, lawmakers will begin negotiating the amount of this year’s dividend and whether the traditional dividend payment formula should be changed.

House and Senate have agreed to create an eight-person working group to hear testimony and make recommendations to the full House and Senate.