Monday, May 20, 2013
Legislative Stalemate Continues on Day 16
Calling today’s pace at the Capitol glacial would be a disservice to the nimbleness of ice.
It's day 16 of the special legislative session, and there is still no resolution in sight.
At an estimated cost of $30,000 per day, the session thus far has drained about half a million dollars from the state treasury.
The bills still pending from the governor's proclamation include the major funding legislation.
The operating budget and the mental health budget are both in a House-Senate conference committee
The Senate Finance Committee has three other bills, including the one that is the logjam of the special session – the capital budget. Also pending there are the performance scholarship fund favored by Governor Sean Parnell, and changes to the coastal zone management program.
Five other bills have passed and are awaiting transmittal to the governor for his signature.
But calling today’s pace at the Capitol glacial would be a disservice to the nimbleness of ice. The question begins to arise as to whether one 30-day special session is enough.
Once again, the House and Senate held perfunctory floor sessions, with no progress on removing the logjam that is the capital budget.
The bipartisan Senate majority continues to insist on language that ties all of the more than $400 million in energy-related public works projects together, with the intent of giving the governor an all-or-nothing choice as he considers whether to use his line-item veto.
The governor and Attorney General John Burns say that would be unconstitutional, and the House Republican majority is standing in firm opposition to that tactic.
As a result, the Senate Finance Committee has not even reported the capital budget to the Senate floor, let alone the Senate giving the bill to the House.
For now, neither side shows any sign of budging.
"Yes, I'm frustrated, and yes, everyone says it's the legislature, but you know, the house has done its job," said House Rules Chair Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage. “We have, you know, passed the stuff, we've responded to the call. And so we're ready to move on. And as soon as we get the capital budget, we can do that."
Members of the Senate majority declined to be interviewed, through a caucus spokeswoman, who said that they are still hoping for a compromise, even if the House chooses to develop its own version of the capital budget. But observers from all sides said that things right now are as dead in the water as they appear.