Rep. Chuck Kopp, R-Anchorage, listens during a House floor session Sunday, July 21, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Rep. Chuck Kopp, R-Anchorage, listens during a House floor session Sunday, July 21, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Divided House leads to ‘disappointing’ day

Capital budget funding and reverse sweep fail

Funding the capital budget and reversing “the sweep” faced an uphill climb Sunday thanks to division and absences, and those factors are why critical aspects of Senate Bill 2002 ultimately failed.

Thirty votes were needed to approve portions of SB 2002 and just 33 lawmakers were present to vote on the bill the Senate previously passed unanimously Saturday.

The capital budget itself, which only required a simple majority passed 28-5. Portions of the bill that would fund the capital budget using the Constitutional Budget Reserve and reverse an accounting happening known as “the sweep” failed 25-8 to reach a 30-vote threshold. A re-vote is expected tomorrow morning.

The vote for funding the capital budget through the Constitutional Budget Reserve and reversing “the sweep” failed 25-7. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

The vote for funding the capital budget through the Constitutional Budget Reserve and reversing “the sweep” failed 25-7. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Voting against the bill were Reps. David Eastman, R-Wasilla; Sharon Jackson, R-Eagle River; DeLena Johnson, R-Palmer; Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage; Colleen Sullivan-Leonard, R-Wasilla; Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla; Sarah Vance, R-Homer; and Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole.

Almost every July for the past 28 years, “the sweep” has emptied state accounts into the Constitutional Budget Reserve. But, every year there has been a sweep, there has been a Legislature-approved reverse sweep to put the money back where it came from.

[Live coverage of the House floor session]

The Legislature failed to approve a reverse sweep when approving an operating budget, and some lawmakers are particularly concerned about failing to approve a reverse sweep before endowments for things such as college scholarships and rural power subsidization are wiped out.

“In summation, this is a very silly thing not to vote for,” said Rep. Jennifer Johnston, R-Anchorage, during her closing remarks. “This budget represents an opportunity for us to fund critical life, health and safety projects.”

Rep. Jennifer Johnston, R-Anchorage, speaks in favor of Senate Bill 2002 during a House floor session Sunday, July 21, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Rep. Jennifer Johnston, R-Anchorage, speaks in favor of Senate Bill 2002 during a House floor session Sunday, July 21, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Both the outcome of the vote and the vote itself were described by representatives on both sides of the bill as “disappointing.”

Pruitt said he was disappointed in a lack of compromise in the bill as well as it drawing funding from the CBR instead of the general fund.

Wilson noted the bill’s similarities to a previous attempt at a capital budget that also failed to secure super majority support.

Wilson and Pruitt also took exception to a specific section of the budget — 17b — that would require future spending if the appropriations made in the bill fall short of expenditures.

They said they would not want to essentially be voting for legislation sight unseen and other House Minority members raised similar objections.

[Senate approves reverse sweep]

However, other representatives, including Johnston, Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage; and Rep. Chuck Kopp, R-Anchorage; maintained it was fairly standard language to ensure the budget was balanced.

“I’m very surprised people will advance an argument that on the face of it is insincere,” Kopp said after the floor session.

Kopp said it’s possible additional representatives may be present in Juneau for tomorrow’s revote, and he is optimistic there may be a different outcome tomorrow.

Excused absences Sunday were Reps. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski; Mark Neuman, R-Big Lake; Sara Rasmussen, R-Anchorage; George Rauscher, R-Sutton; Josh Revak, R-Anchorage; Laddie Shaw, R-Anchorage; and Dave Talerico, R-Healy.

Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, said the governor would have the ability to veto future appropriation bills and his vetoes would then require a super majority vote to override, so there are checks in place.

A handful of representatives were critical of the bill but still voted for it and the CBR draw.

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, supported a couple of unsuccessful amendments that would attach a $3,000 Permanent Fund Dividend to the capital budget, but still voted for it.

Likewise, Rep. Kelly Merrick, R-Eagle River, who spoke against the bill during House Finance Committee consideration of the bill, ultimately voted in favor of it.

Merrick was among representatives who spoke to the importance of passing a capital budget for creating jobs for Alaskans as well as the risk on losing out on almost $1 billion in matching federal funds for highway and airport projects if the budget is not passed.

“This bill means good jobs for Alaskans, and I’m not willing to play politics when there is so much on the line,” Merrick said.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt


More in News

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. Viruses are constantly mutating, with coronavirus variants circulating around the globe. (NIAID-RML)
COVID at a glance for Thursday, March 4

The most recent state and local numbers.

This Sept. 2008 photo provided by the Center for Whale Research taken near Washington state’s San Juan Islands shows scientists looking for clues about the diet of the Pacific Northwest’s endangered orcas using a pool skimmer to collect the scales or other remains of salmon the whales had eaten. A long-term study published Wednesday, March 3, 2021, reaffirmed the importance of Chinook salmon to the whales even when they cruise the outer Pacific Coast, where the fish are harder to find. (Ken Balcomb / Center for Whale Research)
Study: Chinook salmon are key to Northwest orcas all year

That includes fish that spawn in California’s Sacramento River all the way to the Taku River.

Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., listens during the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on her nomination to be Interior secretary, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Some Republican senators labeled Haaland “radical” over her calls to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and address climate change, and said that could hurt rural America and major oil and gas-producing states. The label of Haaland as a “radical” by Republican lawmakers is getting pushback from Native Americans. (Jim Watson / Pool Photo)
Senate energy panel backs Haaland for interior secretary

Murkowski was the lone Republican to support Haaland.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. Viruses are constantly mutating, with coronavirus variants circulating around the globe. (NIAID-RML)
COVID at a glance for Wednesday, March 3

The most recent state and local numbers.

The 52-foot fishing vessel, Haida Lady, submerged between Cobb Island and Silver Point South of Sitka, Alaska, February 28, 2021. (Courtesy photo / U.S. Coast Guard)
Unknown amount of diesel spilled after boat sinks south of Sitka

Clean up and investigation into the sinking are underway.

Has it always been a police car. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Thursday, March 4, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson works with villages, tribes, businesses, and government to protect the Tongass and advance Indigenous management of natural resources. (Courtesy Photo / Brian Wallace for Juneau Climate Change Solutionists)
Juneau Climate Change Solutionists: Protecting Forests through Indigenous land management with Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson

Our greatest role in the global fight against climate change is to protect our land.

A phone screen displays a message warning of a potential spam call. Alaska Department of Public Safety warns of a new scam involving text messages sent to the family members of missing people. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Department of Public Safety warns of scam targeting families of missing people

Scammers trawl social media for info, according to the department.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. Viruses are constantly mutating, with coronavirus variants circulating around the globe. (NIAID-RML)
COVID at a glance for Tuesday. March 2

The most recent state and local numbers.

Most Read