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HomePoliticsSenate tactic fails to deliver budget, and special session starts Thursday

Senate tactic fails to deliver budget, and special session starts Thursday

In a tense and last-minute turn of events, the Alaska House of Representatives adjourned abruptly on Wednesday at 9:15 pm without voting on the state budget. A special session will begin Thursday at 10 am, as called by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

The Alaska Senate had waited until the last possible minute to pass the spending proposal, prompting a race against the clock for the House to respond. The vote to adjourn was 22-18, with all Republicans voting together except for Rep. David Eastman, and Rep. Jesse Sumner, who voted with the Democrat minority.

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The Senate’s budget plan was presented to the House late Wednesday, creating a demanding deadline that had less than six hours for the House to accept the proposal without any alterations.

The House, after spending most of the day in caucus, began its floor session two hours after the Senate’s budget approval at 6 pm, which left representatives with limited options to negotiate. As the House convened at 8 pm, and with a constitutional requirement to adjourn at midnight, it became apparent that an agreement was unlikely.

While the Senate had adjourned for the year, some senators, including Sen. Forrest Dunbar, took their seats in the gallery of the House to observe the unfolding situation. Dunbar arrived in a flannel shirt and stroked his day-old beard as he watched the House in action from a slouched position.

During the final moments on the Senate floor earlier in the evening, a few amendments had been introduced. The crucial question remained: had enough changes been made to appease House members fighting for a larger Permanent Fund dividend?

In the midst of this political standoff, the Democratic House minority appeared ready to accept the Senate take-it-or-leave-it scenario. However, the spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year, commencing on July 1, would have required at least five Republican defections to secure approval.

The Senate budget includes a $1,300 PFD payment per qualifying Alaskan, while the House’s plan offered a $2,700 dividend. The House’s proposal would have meant an $800 million draw from the Constitutional Budget Reserve.

One notable change made to the Senate’s budget depends on the price of oil. If the price exceeds $73 per barrel, Alaskans would receive a bonus on their Permanent Fund dividend.

This story will be updated with information once Gov. Mike Dunleavy makes a decision about convening a special session.

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Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.


  1. Eastman “the least effective leg” has been voting with the Dem’s all session. Kaufman turned out to be a big disappointment.

  2. Wait, I thought Rep. Jesse Sumner and Rep. Louise Stutes are Republicans. They voted against adjournment tonight and to honor the commitment the house majority made earlier this session to treat legislators equally and fairly. Are you saying they aren’t Republicans?

    A legislator’s ability to file a bill on behalf of their constituents has always been held to be sacrosanct in the legislature. The 22 legislators who voted to adjourn prematurely and block filed bills (which already have been given bill numbers) from being introduced this legislative session violated the rights of over 18,000 Alaskans tonight.

    How do you come back from that? Just one more nail in the coffin of the majority. The members of the current majority have doomed the future of their caucus through their own repeated malfeasance this year, setting aside custom, statute, and constitution as though they are entirely above the law.

    • None of you, including you, do the job you’re supposed to be doing.

      Get off your high horse.

      To be fair, this is our fault more than yours. We return incumbents who act like toddlers at a ridiculously high rate.

      You are the government we voted for, and we have the government we deserve.

    • Representative Eastman, it has been you who has personally seen to it that any Republican caucus is doomed from the get go of every legislature you’ve been a part of. You continue to carry the water for the Democrats at virtually every turn, as you’ve done here yet again.

    • Representative Eastman, I have supported you in the past. I watch many committee meetings and Floor sessions. I have come to the conclusion that you are a Coalition of One. You may win some pyrrhic victories but you will ensure the House Majority loses. So, get with the program and stop being a Coalition of One!

  3. Rep. Eastman:
    Sometimes you have to get along to play along. Rather than fight everybody, why not pick your fights based on an ideological basis rather than on personal dislikes. If you truly are a Conservative, wouldn’t you be in a better position with your constituents to try to get along with other Conservative legislators rather than disrupt the peace by running to your ideological enemies? The former will build working relationships where you can have an impact. The
    later will isolate you on boths ends of the spectrum. You will forever be in no-man’s land.

    • The motion was to silence legislators from being able to speak who were already in line to speak and had been waiting all day for the majority to finally arrive to the 11am floor session, my district included. The motion was to ignore and block bills from being introduced, the governor and my district included. The motion was to violate the commitments the majority had made to the public and fellow legislators when they rose to power when my district and I voted to put them there.

      As long as good is defined not by what you are voting for (or against), but who votes with you, we will never be able to extricate Alaska from the mire of Juneau, which so many legislators are more than content to wallow in. It was a good vote. The majority did not do right by Alaskans tonight. For their own reasons they decided to start 9 hours late. No one made them do that. And no one made them vote to silence their fellow legislators, memory hole their bills, or intentionally ignore legislators trying to speak.

      It’s not a good day for Alaska or for the majority. 22 legislators gave 18 the bird tonight, not to mention the public whom we are to serve. Now they are talking about some not even showing up to the special session that the governor has called tomorrow? How does any of this reflect well on Alaska?

      • None of what any of you do reflects well on Alaska. It is, however, a damn poor reflection of the people who supposedly represent us.

        Again, get off your high horse.

      • To save Alaska’s remaining small business’s, it is of manifest necessity that state deliver full PFD’s as the private sector is an endangered species and need that annual economic fare share while so called nonprofits and special interests and huge legislative pay raises run away with the booty 😉

    • Maria, Rep. Eastman is like the ” tablets ” that Moses brought down from the mount Sinai presenting it to a large group of “Idol Worshipers of the O Mighty Buck. The 10 commandments must not be compromised regardless the volume of Mighty Buckers !
      No Personal dislikes here, they can represent themselves without Rep. Eastman’s finger pointing, as you do.
      Accomplices in crime the lot of them. Try to get Moses to join them, all the time keep in mind David isn’t Moses but the ” tablets message ” . Does this give you a clue! READ don’t speak. Your work is not due until the hour has pasted.

    • He’s not a conservative. He publicly aligns himself with the Democrats at almost every opportunity. He’s played his constituents and convinced them that he is fighting for the conservative cause all while doing the bidding of the left time and time again.

      • I think at some point he wanted to be. He has the credentials on paper.

        But somewhere along the way, he fancied himself the John McCain of Alaska. Rugged, “independent”, and overly self assured he and only he was right. Willing to court the favor of anyone (usually on the left) who would validate his personal view of his nobility.

        But just like McCain, when push and shove met the left tossed him aside life yesterday’s garbage.

  4. “whoever oppresses the poor to increase his
    own wealth, or gives
    to the rich, will only come to poverty (money loss, bad health, divorce, troubled unhappy children, depression, loneliness for that individual or place). Proverbs 22:16esv
    There more alaskans like me, hardworking, we don’t spend
    pfd’s on expensive
    gifts, drugs, nor alcohol, loans, nor unnecessary shopping. Even so for others who do- who are we to condemn how the individual spends. When the purpose of the pfd is pull alaskans a little more away from that poverty line
    and keep government from spending all on itself while ignores mamas like me w/o a protector and provider.
    We can use a full pfd again, small government, and an alaska openfor business.

  5. First talk of cuts goes out window with Governor’s and Legislators pay increases. Skip the goodies the Governor’s Office provides his friends. Senate budget was fiscally responsible. Hot air specialists will not tell you what they would cut so the PFD becomes the issue. Leave the oil companies alone. And oil prices will probably be lower and stock market gains muted next year, so deal with it.
    Enough hot air on the PFD. Why not cut the trooper coverage in the Valley if you are serious about cuts. Small government great have a Borough
    elected Sheriffs Department.

    • Equal cuts across every department for starts. Even 10%. Then work toward getting back to basics. Infrastructure and safety of citizens are two of the most important services of government. Making pay and benefits back to parity with the private sector. I would love to see a visual chart of every department. Without a doubt there are many opportunities to rein in the size of our state government hence the spending. I’m sick of constant power plays over working on behalf of our state. Too many elected are there for themselves and are not statesmen or public servants.

  6. According to some other sources it took about a minute for the governor to call for a special session dealing only with the budget to start Thursday. Seems like the impasse was expected. Should get even more interesting.


    This is a legislature mess. Make them solve it.

    Get out in front of the cameras and make it clear that 120 days have been spent playing games, withholding bills, and generally avoiding responsibility, Make it clear that you will NOT reward laziness with additional per diem and a special session. The legislature can call itself back into session when they are ready to be serious. Until then, no more per diem, no more free lunches paid by lobbyists and most of all no more wasting time.

    Come back to Juneau when you are ready to work. Until then, go home and deal with your constituents.

    • It really should NOT be called a “special” session as there is one virtually every session. Not a thing about it us special.

      When one is called, there should be no per diem paid. It’s like a failing 8th grade student asking for “extra credit” who has not handed in assignments.

      Also, there should be no legislative business conducted prior to a budget. That is job 1. Legislators should only collect per diem after the budget is passed.


    • Agree. And when you elect power hungry dishonest narcissists you get focus on power, control, and self grandiosity.

    • Romper Room in the Capitol………again and
      again. Over and over……..again. WHEN are we going to get rid of these adolescents?

  8. Several defunct state programs, including a fund [EVOS] established as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, would be scrubbed from state law under a bill that passed the Alaska Legislature. Perusing the Senate’s budget for 2023 I noted several interesting funding issues.

    Senate 2023 budget-
    ADR&G: EVOS Council still funding and not DEFUNCT under STATEWIDE SUPPORT SERVICES – EVOS Trustee Council 2,405,300. There are also nine programs funded under ADF&G associated with EVOS = 35,604,490.00. Not DEFUNCT yet. Even an EVOS Culture Camp Funding for the Chugach Region at 2,342,955. (See page 118 of

    ADNR EVOS alive and well under ADMININSTRATIVE and SUPPORT SERVICES – EVOS Trustee Council 170,200.

    2023 budget Dept. Of Administration has a-Statewide Salary Survey (HD 1-40) 1,000,000. It is the intent of the legislature that the Statewide Salary Survey include benefits and salaries to ensure that comparisons more accurately represent compensation differences between employers.

    AND what is under RURAL FERRY GRANTS –
    Climate Responsive Ferry Vessel Options 46,214,008?

    Univ. of AK – has 2 line items that raises questions: UAA Health Workforce Diversity Expansion Project Phase 2 (WWAMI) 2,000,000 AND UAA Health Workforce Expansion and Diversity Funding Phase 1 4,000,000?

    Granted this is small expeditures in view of the overall budget, but every little bit helps.

  9. I’ll bet that if the legislators and staff were not getting paid wages and per diem during special sessions, work would actually get done during regular session…..

  10. Wow what a surprise they still cant decide how much of our PFD to steal. How about we put it to a vote on how much the legislatures can spend. We have a law that sessions are supposed to be done in 90 days they could continually go over that. No budget no pay go home no state services. The most important legislation every year and every year they pull the same stunt.

  11. Broadband is great, except it’s all about getting $100’s of millions funneled to a monopoly. That didn’t make a difference, as it was 100% a campaign rally for Mary Peltola.

    Democrats should have to pay for this whole circus from one of their PACs.

    PS, Starlink is all over Rural Alaska without help from the Federal government.

  12. Senators Stevens and Stedman have figured out how to milk the State coffers by going into “Special Session” at the drop of a hat, thereby running up their per diem. Evidently, their recent pay raise of 30k, bringing their base salary to 85k a year wasn’t enough money for them. These two grifters need to be shown the door!

  13. EPIC Failure …. with no accountability and/or consequences.
    This “Donny-Brook” of a show will never cease.
    It’s merely emblematic of poor and inept leadership.

  14. Purring like the kittens they are. Purrr, Purrr, all the way to the bank. It’s SO hard to figure out how much to pay on the pfd since it is the law and they believed it when some liar told them they don’t have to obey laws. They hadn’t realized that before like they do now. Revoke liscenses! State of AK!

  15. You want end this “special nession” crap?. Stop the per diem at the end of the regular session. Having ANY of these legislative charades in Juneau is a total fraud on the Alaskan taxpayer.

  16. Change the pay of the house and senate to a fixed salary. Then cut off per diem after the 120 day session. Then they can work for NO extra money any time a ‘special session’ is called for.

  17. I wonder if it feels like they won the sweepstakes again or they got their pfd a bit earlier than any others, lesser persons.


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