Legislature passes budget, averts government shutdown
The legislature has approved the budget compromise the conference committee delivered Thursday, avoiding Alaska’s government shutting down for the first time in state history.
Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) was the lone no-vote in the Senate. Shortly after, she announced she is leaving the majority caucus.
Among the agreements are fully funding education, limiting the PFD to $1100 this year, $57 million in tax credit reimbursements to the oil industry and paying for the operating budget out of the Constitutional Budget Reserve rather than Permanent Fund earnings. The latter is something Governor Bill Walker had hoped to avoid as the State works to fill its multi-billion-dollar deficit.
The budget draws an estimated $2.4 billion from the Constitutional Budget Reserve and avoids drawing from the higher-earning Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account.
The legislature was called into a second special session last Friday with the budget being the sole agenda item. Thursday, Governor Walker amended the proclamation so the House could concur on House Bill 159, the governor’s bill to combat the opioid epidemic. After passing the budget and concurred on the opioid bill, Governor Walker amended the proclamation a second time to add the oil tax bill.
State workers rallied outside of the Capitol building Thursday around noon urging lawmakers to take action on the budget.
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