The Latest: House falls short in capital budget funds
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on the Alaska Legislature (all times local):
The Alaska House has passed a state infrastructure budget but fell short of the support needed to fund major provisions.
Minority House Republicans, some of whom supported passage of the capital budget, nonetheless voted against tapping the constitutional budget reserve to help cover costs. Three-fourths support is needed to access the reserve fund.
House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt had said he couldn’t see members of his caucus supporting a draw from the reserve fund without funding for an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend settled. A proposed amendment to pay a full dividend of about $3,000 to residents from permanent fund earnings failed earlier in the day.
The capital budget and dividend are the unresolved items in this special session, which is set to expire Friday.
The Alaska House has voted down a proposal to pay residents full dividend checks of around $3,000 this year from the state’s oil-wealth fund, setting the stage for another special session.
The vote was 15 in support, 21 against.
Some saw a full payout as a way to build trust with Alaskans after several years of reduced payouts. Others questioned the affordability.
Dividends have long been paid using Alaska Permanent Fund earnings, which lawmakers also have started using to help pay for government costs.
Last week, the Senate by one vote failed to approve a full dividend. When it had a chance later to revive the bill for another vote, it failed to do so.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy has said lawmakers should pay a full dividend.
A group of Alaska House and Senate members plan to meet over the next few weeks in hopes of making recommendations about the use of earnings from the state’s oil-wealth fund.
Sen. Click Bishop, one of the group’s leaders, says 21 days is the target for the group to do its work.
The group was created by the House and Senate as lawmakers have struggled to agree on the size of the dividend that should be paid to residents from Alaska Permanent Fund earnings and potential changes to the dividend program.
Lawmakers last year began using fund earnings to help pay for government expenses, causing tension with the decades-old dividend program. They also passed a law seeking to limit what can be taken from earnings for dividends and government.