Democrats controlling the Alaska House of Representatives have announced they will have standing committees and special committees reviewing the budgets of the various departments, rather than the usual subcommittees of the House Finance Committee.
In a press release, the new majority explained it this way:
House Majority Coalition to Implement New Budget Subcommittee Process
Expertise of Standing and Special Committee Members Will Be Utilized to Identify Budget Savings
Anchorage – When the 30th Alaska Legislature convenes next month, a new budget subcommittee process will be implemented by the House Finance Committee. Previously, unique budget subcommittees were established to review the budget of each state agency. In an effort to more efficiently use the time and expertise of lawmakers, the new House Majority Coalition has decided to use the current standing and special committees as budget subcommittees. Each subcommittee will be chaired by a majority member from the House Finance Committee.
“A benefit to this new approach is that those legislators with subject matter expertise or interest who sit on a relevant committee can now work on both budgets and policy,” said incoming House Finance Committee Co-chair Paul Seaton (R-Homer). “With this new structure, if legislation is required to make a budget change, the standing and special committee can start that process at the same time they examine the budget for the relevant department.”
The new approach to the budget subcommittee process will make more efficient use of members’ time during the 90-day legislative session. It will also increase transparency by allowing the public and media to more closely follow the budget subcommittee process. With this change, it’s anticipated that more budget subcommittee meetings will be held during the regular work day and can more easily be broadcast by 360 North and covered by the media.
“The members of the House Majority Coalition want to shift to a more holistic review of each department in order to find additional budget savings by identifying programs that can be combined, cut, or even eliminated without negatively impacting essential state services,” said Speaker-Elect Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham). “Our members will be looking at each program to determine if it’s essential to the core mission of each agency. In addressing the ongoing fiscal crisis, we will prioritize how and where we spend Alaska’s limited funds.”
The members of the House Majority Coalition are committed to passing a comprehensive fiscal plan this session and believe this common-sense proposal to streamline the budget subcommittee process will help achieve that goal.
The new budget subcommittee process will be implemented when the 30th Alaska Legislature convenes on January 17th in Juneau. A list of budget subcommittees is attached.
For more information, please contact House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.
The assignments on the departments are as follows: