Capital budget inching closer to House vote
The House is poised to vote for a $1.4 billion capital budget that mostly covers road maintenance and other construction projects but also funds one-time appropriation needs.
And it has just three days to approve Senate Bill 19 before the current 30-day special session ends.
SB 19 moved out of the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, on an 8-3 vote. Once the House approves the bill, the Senate must still agree on changes made to its version passed last month.
Unlike the state’s operating budget, which cleared a final vote on Monday, the Legislature does not have to pass a capital budget by July 1 when the new fiscal year begins.
Two years ago, the Legislature returned to Juneau mid-summer for a one-day special session and agreed on that appropriations bill.
Before a House vote takes place, amendment proposals are expected to create some tense floor discussions, perhaps as early as Wednesday morning when the House meets.
With the Permanent Fund dividend size still undecided House Finance Committee co-chair Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, said she expects a PFD amendment to be introduced.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy and many lawmakers are steadfast in a $3,000 dividend, but other lawmakers say a dividend under a 40-year-old statute is not sustainable.
The budget includes:
- $16.5 million for the Alaska Marine Highway System for ferry vessel work.
- $25 million in receipt authority for the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. This allows the agency to accept private funds to complete a federal permitting application.
- $10 million toward rehabilitation facilities, part of a broader public safety reform effort underscored by House Bill 49.
“We know we need to lock people up for longer to make people safer,” Wilson said, “but we also need someplace for them to go so they can become good citizens again.”
The bill also requires tapping into a savings account called the Constitutional Budget Reserve, and that requires a three-quarter vote – or 30 members – which gives the Republican-led minority leverage.
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