Senate Ignores House Budget, Debates Their Own

image06-04-2015 07.00.59On Sunday, the Alaska Senate debated their own version of the state budget. This, after the House managed to come together with a compromise and release a bi-partisan budget to break the stalemate that has plagued to special session, and threatened to shut down the state government.

Ignoring the House and urgings from the governor, the Senate on Sunday stripped most of the elements from the House’s version of the budget. 

Parnell era state worker contracts were stripped, along with the other compromises contained in the House’s bipartisan budget.

 The only overlap between the two budgets is education funding. Both include a $16 million payment to education. However, the House placed the $16 million into the Base Student Allocation formula and fully funded the BSA. On the other hand, the Senate made this $16 million a onetime payment, thus making the long-term fiscal outlook for schools unclear.

The House passed its version on a 32-8 vote and also decided to tap into the Constitutional budget reserve with a vote of 38-2.

“When a deal is made, that deal should be honored,” said Mike Wenstrup chair of the Alaska Democratic Party. “Democrats made hard concessions in their bipartisan budget deal. The Senate Majority should put Alaska first by honoring the House’s bipartisan budget.”

After the House managed  to pass their version, Governor Walker urged the Senate to concur. He said in a press release, “I thank members of the House for negotiating on a fully funded budget so that we can continue to fund services Alaskans depend on.” Governor Walker continued, saying, “It is now up to the Senate to concur with work the House has begun to ensure 10,000 layoff notices are not sent out.”

Even thoough lawmakers left Sunday’s session dejected, Senate members say that they may still have a deal by today. But, the Senate is looking to set up a conference committee to negotiate the concessions Republican House members made to the Democrat side of the aisle.

The Senate will reconvene at 10 am today and the House will reconvene at 2 pm this afternoon.