WILL THERE BE A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN JULY 1?
The Alaska Legislature has met for 121 days and has not yet accomplished much. They enshrined Katie John Day as an official day of recognition. And passed Black History Month and Native Heritage Month resolutions. A few minor bills flew through during the waning hours.
But the Legislature has one job that it must do: Pass a budget. And so far, there’s no operating budget, no education funding, no capital budget, no Permanent Fund dividend appropriation, and no rollback of SB 91, the crime bill.
Gov. Michael Dunleavy called the House and Senate back into special session in Juneau starting at 10 am on Thursday.
“It’s painfully clear that after spending the last four months in session, lawmakers will not complete the people’s business by midnight tonight,” Dunleavy said. “Alaskans have every right to be disappointed by the legislature’s inaction, but Alaskans are also expecting final action on legislation to address the most pressing issues facing our state like giving law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to stop criminals and reducing state spending. As a result, I am calling a 30-day special session to give lawmakers another opportunity to complete the critical tasks they were sent to accomplish by the People of Alaska.”
The proclamation directs the Legislature to work on five items:
- An education appropriation bill to bring a solution to the FY20 education budget
- HB39 – Operating Budget which includes a full PFD under calculation
- HB40 Mental Health Budget
- SB19 Capital Budget
- HB49 Criminal Justice Reform Package
“I told Alaskans earlier today that these items must be completed before adjournment and we would remove any of the five items from the call if they passed by midnight tonight. Now, I urge lawmakers to work with me in the remaining days to get these bills passed and bring the special session to a close.
“If the legislature again fails to adopt a full PFD, operating and capital budgets, fund education and pass an effective crime package, it will be evident we will need to move to a new venue,” Dunleavy said.
Earlier today, he indicated he was thinking about calling for the special session to be held in the Mat-Su Valley.
Both the House and Senate gaveled out in the 11th hour of May 15, as required by the Alaska Constitution. The special session is limited to 30 days, but the governor can call additional special sessions.
The fiscal year begins July 1, and without a budget, the government would begin to shut down. Already, Dunleavy has said that unless the House and Senate add education funding into their budget, his administration cannot constitutionally release funds to education districts around the state.
(Check back. This story will be updated.)