WASILLA, HERE THEY COME
The Alaska House Majority gaveled out of Special Session today, and the Senate followed shortly thereafter.
There’s no Permanent Fund dividend yet, and the capital budget has no funding source. K-12 education funding for the fiscal year starting July 1 has not been appropriated, and the governor and Legislature may be heading to court over that to resolve the constitutional question of forward appropriations.
Gov. Michael Dunleavy quickly issued a proclamation calling the Alaska Legislature into special session to provide for a full PFD as outlined in Alaska statute.
He did not place the capital budget on the call for special session, but he did name Wasilla as the location, and the start date is July 8.
The governor’s office has suggested Wasilla Middle School, since the school district has offered it for free, but the Legislature doesn’t have to accept that location. Some have said that Senate President Cathy Giessel and House Speaker Bryce Egmon will gavel in and gavel out, and then reconvene in Anchorage.
“At this point, a change in venue is necessary to refocus the conversation and remind lawmakers about the people and their PFD. Once the issue of the PFD is solved, these other budgetary issues will fall into place quickly,” Dunleavy said in a statement.
Dunleavy will hold a press conference at Wasilla Middle School on Friday at 10 am to discuss the upcoming special session.
House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt said the Democrat-led Majority had wasted time and money and accomplished little.
“Let me be clear: we are not even close to being finished with the people’s work,” Pruitt said. “The House Majority has wasted months of legislative time this year, and now they’re forcing Alaskans to pay for yet another special session so they can continue their delay of necessary government spending reform. Adjourning without answering these important questions is a grave miscarriage of the people’s trust, and I, for one, am extremely disappointed. We offered solutions to these questions months ago. They decided to start the conversation after 149 days.”
This is the first time in Alaska history that the Legislature has adjourned without funding a Permanent Fund dividend. There is also no capital budget.
Senate President Cathy Giessel released the following statement:
“This Legislature passed the smallest operating budget in more than a decade, made the largest single deposit into the Permanent Fund in history, and strengthened our criminal laws by repealing and replacing Senate Bill 91, but the people’s work is not finished.
“We are committed to working with our colleagues in the House, and the governor, to fully fund a capital budget and reach agreement on the Permanent Fund dividend. As stewards of Alaska’s vast resources, it’s critical we act in the best interest of all Alaskans, including those not yet born.”