Sens. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, center, and Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, right, put questions to Office of Management and Budget Director Neil Steininger during a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. The Legislature’s third special session of the year is dealing mostly with budget issues despite having been called to bring resolution to the state’s fiscal deficit. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Sens. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, center, and Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, right, put questions to Office of Management and Budget Director Neil Steininger during a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. The Legislature’s third special session of the year is dealing mostly with budget issues despite having been called to bring resolution to the state’s fiscal deficit. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Governor adds amendments to budget bill

Unfinished budget business drives special session

With just a week left in the summer’s third special session, members of the Senate Finance Committee heard 34 amendments from Gov. Mike Dunleavy to be added to an appropriations bill currently working its way through the Legislature.

Office of Management and Budget Director Neil Steininger walked committee members through the list of amendments that included $1.5 million for the Department of Corrections for DNA collection, federal health and economic development grants and previously negotiated cost-of-living adjustments for certain state employees.

In one amendment Gov. Mike Dunleavy reversed his own veto of $1.25 million for public health nursing. Steininger said the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases prompted the administration to make the change.

“We do continue to look and discuss on a daily basis if (the Department of Health and Social Services) has the resources it needs,” Steininger said. “If we felt that was not the case, we would come back to this body, but we feel they have the resources to get them through the next session.”

[House passes budget bill, calls for $1,100 PFD]

After multiple fractious floor sessions, members of the Alaska House of Representatives sent House Bill 3003 to the Senate. The bill is aimed at finalizing the state’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget. Completing the budget has long been a bipartisan priority for some lawmakers but to some Republicans, the appropriations bill is a distraction from this session’s intended purpose.

During floor debate on the bill, members of the House minority caucus complained legislative leadership was prioritizing the budget bill at the expense of finding long-term fiscal solutions.

On Tuesday, Senate Democrats announced two pieces of legislation aimed at increasing revenue by increasing the state’s motor fuel tax and decreasing oil tax credits.

In order to fully fund the budget, the Legislature will have to reach a three-quarter vote to access funds in the Constitutional Budget Reserve.

The current special session ends Sept. 15, and Monday, Sept. 6, is Labor Day, a federal holiday, but several lawmakers and the governor have floated the idea of a fourth special session.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

Capital Transit buses wait to depart from the downtown transit center on Thursday. Route number 8 was adjusted this spring. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
More service, visitor information helping Capital Transit to keep up with extra cruise passenger traffic

Remedies made after residents unable to board full buses last year seem to be working, officials say

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, May 23, 2024

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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

Campaign buttons urging Alaskans to repeal ranked choice voting in Alaska sit on a picnic table at the home of Phil Izon, a backer of the initiative, in Wasilla, Alaska, on Tuesday, May 14. Arguments are scheduled May 28 in a lawsuit challenging the state Division of Election’s decision to certify the initiative for placement on the ballot this year. (Mark Thiessen / AP)
Ranked-choice voting has challenged the status quo. Its popularity will be tested in November

Arguments scheduled Tuesday in Alaska lawsuit involving ballot initiative repealing RCV.

A sperm whale is seen in an undated photo published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (NOAA photo)
Alaska fisherman pleads guilty to federal charges after ordering crew to shoot whale

A Southeast Alaska troll fisherman has agreed to plead guilty to a… Continue reading

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Most Read