Negotiations on a Compromise Capital Budget are Underway; Lawmakers Will be Recalled to Juneau When a Deal is Reached
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2017
Anchorage – With the passage of legislation last week to reform Alaska’s oil industry subsidies, the attention of the Alaska Legislature turns to the Fiscal Year 2018 Capital Budget. That budget needs to pass before the start of the federal fiscal year in October in order to prevent the loss of over a billion dollars in federal funding. The Alaska House Majority Coalition hopes to negotiate a compromise with the Alaska State Senate and Governor Walker to pass the FY 18 Capital Budget before returning lawmakers to Juneau for final action. To this end, the Co-chairs of the Finance Committees in the House and Senate have already started meeting to discuss the details of a Capital Budget compromise.
“I see no benefit to the Alaskan people by paying to send dozens of legislators to Juneau, competing with tourists for peak-season hotel rooms at state expense, when there are still differences between the most recent House and Senate Capital Budgets. However, we have made significant progress in the last few days. We can and should act quickly to resolve our differences, protecting vital construction projects and preserving over a billion dollars in federal matching funds,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham). “I have already begun conversations with Senate President Kelly and Governor Walker to discuss the timing of taking up the Capital Budget with the hope of reaching a deal and getting this vital piece of legislation passed and signed before the end of July.”
In the effort to move quickly, the leadership of the Alaska House Majority Coalition has been in contact with the Governor’s office and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to get information on projects that must be funded in the FY 18 Capital Budget and the timing of that funding to prevent the loss of federal matching funds.
“I am confident a compromise is in reach that will protect the thousands of construction jobs that depend on a yearly Capital Budget,” said House Finance Committee Co-chair Rep. Neal Foster (D-Nome), who is leading Capital Budget negotiations. “We have no intention of delaying consideration of the Capital Budget but there are still some disagreements between the two bodies that need to be worked out. I agree with Speaker Edgmon that it would be a waste of time and money to force 60 members of the Alaska Legislature to sit in Juneau waiting on a deal. We should continue working and reconvene in Juneau when we have a compromise.”
Once a compromise is agreed to, the Alaska Legislature will have a couple of options for taking up the Capital Budget, including calling themselves back in or working with Governor Walker to call a Third Special Session.
For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.