Alaska Legislature passes 2016 operating budget
Update – 12:15 p.m.: The Alaska Senate has passed the 2016 operating budget by a vote of 16-3 with senators Bill Wielechowski, Johnny Ellis and Berta Gardner voting in opposition. The Senate voted unanimously in favor of using the Constitutional Budget Reserve to fund the budget.
Gardner and Wielechowski said they can’t support the budget because it restricts Medicaid expansion and doesn’t include enough cuts. Rep. Chris Tuck says he objected to the budget because it did not include $32 million in one-time education funding that was promised to schools in a bill passed last year. Tuck also says he didn’t support the budget because it included language that restricts Medicaid expansion and it doesn’t include cuts to oil tax credits.
The budget now moves to Gov. Bill Walker for his signature.
Original story: On day 22 of the second special session, 143 days after the Alaska Legislature first convened in January, the House of Representatives passed and funded a $5.2 billion 2016 operating budget by a 32-7 vote.
Democrat representatives Sam Kito, Andy Josephson, Scott Kawasaki, Chris Tuck, Harriet Drummond and David Guttenberg and Republican Rep. Lora Reinbold voted against the budget bill.
Lawmakers voted 38-1 to use money from the Constitutional Budget Reserve to fund the budget, with Reinbold casting the sole opposing vote.
Before the Thursday morning vote, lawmakers gave final speeches focusing on the state’s fiscal problems. Democrats and Republicans compromised Wednesday night on the final sticking points; primarily state employee contracts and education funding.
The budget passed Thursday includes around $32 million in additional spending compared with the budget that the Senate passed in Juneau. Spending on agency operations totals $4.1 billion in unrestricted general funds, which represents a 9.1 percent decrease from last year’s budget
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly listed Sen. Dennis Egan as voting in opposition of the budget. The third opposition vote came from Sen. Johnny Ellis.
This story will be expanded — check back for updates.