In its fifth day of overtime, the Legislature is plodding steadily toward adjournment.


The Senate passed HB 278, the omnibus education bill, after spirited debate. The education debate moved to the House Friday afternoon, where House Democrats blasted the compromise-spending plan, which boosts spending by $100 million in each of the next three years. They argued the increase is not as much as it appears to be and won’t prevent layoffs.


In the end, the education bill passed the Senate 15-3 and in the House by a vote of 28-10.


Earlier on Friday, both bodies passed HB 23, a bill that sets up a funding mechanism to build the Knik Arm Bridge. The bill includes a major change — it turns control of the funding to the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities from the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority (KABATA).


Lawmakers who spoke in favor of the change say state control will give the project more accountability. Other lawmakers spoke in support of KABATA.


Rep. Shelley Hughes likened the shift in control to a passing of a baton in a relay race. HB 23 passed 14-4 in the Senate and 28-10 in the House.


Both the education and bridge votes passed largely along party lines.


With applause and cheers, the House adjourned for the session at about 3 p.m. after passing a budget over $5 billion. It’s larger because it includes a $3 billion for a payment toward the $12 billion debt owed to the public employees and teacher retirement systems. It also includes $300 million to forward-fund education for three years.


The Senate now takes up the capital budget, the final step toward adjournment of the 28th Legislature.

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