Overtime costs for Alaska Legislature adding up
The Alaska Legislature is heading back to Juneau for the third time this year to try to come up with a long-term budget fix.
They were supposed to be done five weeks ago, but because they weren’t able to reach a compromise, they reached the 90-day limit, set by voters in a 2006 initiative. The cost of lawmakers working overtime in Juneau is adding up, already totaling more than $1 million and counting.
Rep. Matt Claman said everyone is frustrated.
“There’s nothing that we learned in May and June that we didn’t already know in January,” he said.
Each day of overtime costs the state $30,000 in payments to lawmakers for their housing costs and other expenses, regardless of how much work they get done.
“It’s frustrating that we keep going around the same mountain, and that’s where I’m scratching my head,” said Rep. Shelley Hughes. “The governor has to see that the needle is not moving, and what’s the point of bringing us back together again?”
Gov. Bill Walker is calling them back to Juneau for another 30 days, starting on July 11, to address his permanent fund bill.
“Our deficit is about $11 million a day, we can afford another special session, we can’t afford not to have a special session,” Walker said at a press conference Sunday.
The governor’s bill restructures the permanent fund to help pay for state government, and would limit the payout for dividend checks over the next few years. Oil, sales and incomes taxes are also on the table.
This is where lawmakers still can’t come to an agreement.
“We do have some savings, we don’t have to everything at once, I think that would be very disruptive to the economy,” Hughes said.
Since 2006, the Legislature has gone over the 90-day limit for more than half of the regular sessions. In 2015, Walker called two special sessions, which cost the state $896,267.