Uncomfortable about delaying critical road funding for next year, two of the most conservative members of the House of Representatives voted with the Democrat-led Majority to pass the capital budget Monday, agreeing with a “reverse sweep” to fix funding for programs the Legislature neglected to fund in the Operating Budget.
On day 195 of the Legislative season, and on a third vote in a week, the Capital Budget was not a hill these conservatives needed to die on, as they know the governor has the veto pen and can X-out any items in the budget that were added back, should he choose.
The Capital Budget passed 31-7, with Reps. Dave Talerico and DeLena Johnson voting in favor of it. Only one of their votes was needed to access the Constitutional Budget Reserve. Senate Bill 2002 had passed the Senate earlier this month.
The bill will now head to the Governor’s Desk, where he can approve or veto items such as Power Cost Equalization, funding to pay for the new tough-on-crime legislation, college scholarships or the WWAMI program, a medical education program that allows students from Alaska to study at the University of Washington Medical School.
The Capital Budget is primarily a road bill. It brings millions of dollars in federal funds for road and other infrastructure projects around the state, projects that will start next year.
The Senate is taking up the Permanent Fund dividend bill on Monday. It’s a bill that also has had hundreds of millions of dollars worth of add-back spending in it, as legislators try to undo the governor’s vetoes of the Operating Budget.