Senate Finance members defend budget proposal, including education cuts
Budget items, including education, are still under negotiation in Juneau.
Day two of the extended legislative session brought sunshine to Juneau for the first time in over a week, but it didn’t bring an end to negotiations on the state’s budget.
“The cold hard reality is that we can’t print money and there is only a limited about of money in our savings accounts,” said Eagle River Republican Sen. Anna MacKinnon.
Sen. MacKinnon, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, says she’s reading emails from the public who are demanding money be added back into the reduced budget. But during a press conference Tuesday, Senate Finance Committee members reiterated multiple times that the money does not exist.
“We’ve hit the fiscal cliff, we’ve fallen off the fiscal cliff,” said Fairbanks Republican and co-chair Sen. Pete Kelly. “We are trying to save Alaska’s financial future.”
Sen. Kelly says $850 million in cuts to the budget are proposed, and education is not spared.
“The Senate is challenging those who are reliant on government services, particularly at this time the big discussion is about education; you’re going to have to think out of the box,” Kelly said.
The halls of the Capitol were relatively quiet on Tuesday as lawmakers from the House Majority and Minority continued negotiating the operating budget behind doors. Education funding is just one of a few sticking points.
“We are just worried about going too deep and going into some areas unnecessarily just because we are trying to meet a number,” said Rep. Chris Tuck.
“We’re not cutting for the sport of it, we are cutting for efficiencies,” said the Anchorage Democrat, who has some leverage in the negotiations because Minority votes will be needed to tap into the Constitutional Budget Reserve in order to balance the budget.
Senate Democrats say there are hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate tax credits, some of which could be used to fully fund education.
“The checks we are writing to the oil industry — $400 million this year, $800 million next year, that’s an awful lot of school funding,” said Sen. Berta Gardner. “Kids come first, cut the credits before we cut services for our kids.”
The post Senate Finance members defend budget proposal, including education cuts appeared first on KTVA 11.