After hours of amendments, most of which failed, the Alaska House of Representatives approved a $4.5 billion operating budget. The document now goes to the Senate for its consideration and vote, then will land in a conference committee before heading to the governor’s desk.
The operating budget, which passed largely along caucus lines, lacks an appropriation for the Permanent Fund dividend, and also lacks a complete funding source, as there were not enough votes to dip into the Constitutional Budget Reserve.
As the Democrat-led majority did last year, they severed the dividend from the rest of the budget to take up that item separately.
The budget is largely the same as requested by the governor, with a few changes in funding sources, and a few other modest modifications. It’s not so much that the House majority supports the governor’s budget, but it’s not taking any chances in an election year.
A couple of additions added to the House budget:
- $180,000 to fund one dairy inspector for the one dairy farm left in Alaska. Without dairy inspections, the farm would be out of business, since it is governed by regulations that require state inspections.
- $1 million more for Alaska Public Radio.
The budget passed 23 to 16, with Rep. Sharon Jackson excused. The Constitutional Budget Reserve provision vote failed to pass on a vote of 23 yeas and 16 nays. To access funds from the account, the Legislature needs a 3/4 vote.