JUNEAU — The state Senate has offered concessions regarding two politically sticky clauses in construction and capital spending proposals, Senate President Gary Stevens said Thursday.
Stevens also said he expects the Legislature’s special session, which began Monday, to continue into next week.
The $2.9 billion capital budget, still sitting in the Senate Finance Committee, includes a $399 million energy-specific spending package that would fund projects across the state. A clause in the bill would shield individual items within the package from Gov. Sean Parnell’s veto.
Stevens, R-Kodiak, said his chamber’s leaders have made a “concession” offer to their House colleagues related to that contingency clause. He declined to offer specifics but called it “significant” in scope and said he’s waiting for a reply.
But Stevens wrote
Parnell that the Alaska Energy Authority should scrutinize the dozens of energy projects on the Senate’s list. He also offered to break a separate lock in the proposed budget that, as currently written, holds back $100 million for state-supported projects unless North Slope crude stays at or above $150 per barrel for much of the year. That $100 million package includes next year’s budget for the Road to Resources program.
“So we’re trying to move ahead,” he said, adding that he recently met with House Speaker Mike Chenault,
R-Nikiski, on the Legislature’s budget standoff.
Sharon Leighow, Parnell’s spokeswoman, simply noted Thursday was the Senate’s 94th straight day in Juneau without passing next year’s budget.
“The Senate majority should finish the job the public sent them to do,” she told the Daily News-Miner by email.
But Stevens also said the legislative stalemate is partly Parnell’s fault. The governor had suggested he would cut legislative spending plans unless lawmakers approved his plans to cut oil taxes.
“The 2011 session commenced with your aggressive position that the oil tax cuts pass, or else,” Stevens wrote. “The Senate Majority respectfully has not acquiesced to your position.”
The Senate committee wrote April 11 in the proposed capital plan that the full Legislature must approve the entire energy package to start implementing an energy policy approved last year. That policy was included in a pair of measures, House Bill 305 and Senate Bill 220. Those bills, the committee said, recognized “the immense diversity of the state’s geography, cultures, and resource availability and the need to identify and assist with development of the most cost-effective, long-term sources of energy for each community statewide.”
Given that task, the budget currently reads, the entire package of energy projects “are all necessary to achieve a statewide balance in addressing the state’s diverse energy needs.”
The bill is Senate Bill 46.
Contact staff writer Christopher Eshleman at 459-7582.