Finally, it feels like the logjam is beginning to break. Today the House and Senate reached concurrence on the Operating and Mental Health budgets. In excess of nine billion fat ones, the Operating Budget is a cornucopia stuffed with goodies enough for everybody. My view is that the size alone is scary, but I have to confess that the things important to me were pretty much included…Read more
Save It For a Rainy Day? Perish the Thought
We are poised to pass an operating budget today. A mental health budget, too.
(I’ll pause here while you get the legislature-mental health jokes off your chest.)
The operating budget is the big casino, the money to pay for the day-to-day costs of state government. This year’s operating budget is just less than $9 billion – that’s $6.6 billion in state funds, $2.1 in federal funds. Next year’s operating budget, the one we’re working on now, is just more than $9 billion – that’s $6.9 billion in state funds, $2.1 billion in federal funds. That’s an increase of about 4 percent in state funds.Read more
Today is day 16 of the special legislative session. Much to my disappointment, the Legislature remains in a stalemate over the capital budget, with Senate and House leadership and the Governor all digging in their heels. The main point of contention is language in the Senate’s version of the budget that ties together a large number of energy projects across the state by saying that if the Governor vetoes one or more of the projects, he effectively vetoes the entire package of energy projects.Read more
The special session is heading in to its third week, and the House and Senate Finance Committees are still at an impasse over the capital budget. The main point of contention is language the Senate has proposed linking millions of dollars worth of energy projects together in order to prevent the governor from vetoing some of those projects.Read more
I’ve done my best these past two weeks to share what I learned as an attorney who started my career on a very contentious case – representing the State in its civil prosecution of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill case. Sticking your heels in the mud and drawing lines in the sand doesn’t end disputes – this one’s over the budget. We settled the state’s case with Exxon for $1 billion in 1991 – though the major damages were suffered by individuals who brought their own cases – and by not talking Exxon used its obstinance and power to drag that case out for two decades.Read more
Today is the 12th day of the special session, with no discernable movement from last week’s status (see last week’s newsletter). Yesterday in a press conference, the Alaska House Democrats set out a path for a common-sense solution to end the special session. We believe this would require a little give and take from all the parties involved and would result in the Legislature being able to get the job done.Read more
Government by Press Conference
There’s been a lot of talk about process in the Capitol the past two weeks. In case you’ve missed it, and you very well might have, legislators are still down in Juneau, trying to figure out if we’re going to have a budget next year. So far we’ve been at that for 12 days of special session, and we’re pretty much right where we started.
Maybe that’s because everybody is talking about process, mostly in dueling press conferences and interviews, but nobody seems to actually be applying a process.Read more
During this morning’s House floor session we rolled through the calendar:
· Messages from the Governor? None.
· Messages from the other body? None.
· Any new legislation? None.
· Anything on the daily calendar? None.
One of my colleagues expressed the feeling we all share when he commented “This feels like Groundhog Day”.