Majority of representatives vote to fund supplemental budget, still short of supermajority
JUNEAU – The Alaska House of Representatives voted today to approve the FY20 supplemental budget to help pay for expenses related to last year’s wildfires, Medicaid costs, and funds needed to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.
Unfortunately, a critical vote on House Bill 234 fell short of achieving the required three-quarter supermajority necessary to tap into the Constitutional Budget Reserve for full funding. As a result, only $246 million of the $359 million needed will be appropriated, and the governor will be forced to prioritize COVID-19 response efforts, paying health providers money they are owed, or funding other essential programs.
The vote also failed to achieve the threshold necessary to prevent the reverse sweep, which means that hundreds of millions of dollars will be diverted from over 59 subaccounts into the CBR as required by state law.
“This budget was in large part about picking up the tab for the huge cut to Medicaid last year. It’s a shame that many legislators couldn’t support the measure,” House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham) said.
“It’s frustrating to see this critical vote used as a bargaining chip,” said House Finance Committee Co-Chair Jennifer Johnston (R-Anchorage). “Regardless, we’re committed to finding alternative ways to make sure that the essential services Alaskans rely on continue to receive adequate funding.”
“The governor must now decide what gets funded and what doesn’t,” said House Finance Committee Co-Chair Neal Foster (D-Nome). “We would like to see Medicaid funding and COVID-19 related programs prioritized, but because of today’s vote, it’s now up to Governor to decide.”
Alaska House Majority