After sending two major bills to the governor’s desk Monday, the Alaska House of Representatives met for a brief technical session Wednesday morning.
With only five lawmakers present, the House gaveled in and gaveled out within five minutes. Many legislators returned to their home districts shortly after Monday’s session ended, leaving the Capitol mostly empty.
Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, adjourned the House until the morning of Aug. 6. As to what will take place that morning, “we’re still working on it,” Edgmon said.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy has 15 days to sign or veto any legislation passed by the legislature. In a telephone press conference with reporters Monday afternoon Dunleavy said, “we’re going to scrutinizing (the bills). Reductions and efficiencies have to be part of a sustainable budget plan.”
The governor has made a $3,000 Permanent Fund Dividend a priority for his administration but the legislation sent to the governor Monday allocates only $1,600.
“I think if there is a bill that does not take into account the wishes of the people of Alaska, this is a strong possibility of a repeal,” Dunleavy said in the press conference.
Senate Bill 2002, which the House voted Monday first to rescind its previous action on and then passed the bill, contains language both for a capital budget and a reverse sweep. While the governor can make line-item vetoes to certain items within the capital budget, he cannot re-sweep funds that were taken out of the Constitutional Budget Reserve. Those funds inclunde money for the Alaska Performance Scholarship and the Power Cost Equalization program.
“It’s a good thing we got this capital budget behind us,” Dunleavy said.
However, the other bill sent to the governor Monday, HB 2001, which contains operating budget money also contains the language for the partial PFD.
“I think it’s a dark day for the PFD and Alaskans that support the PFD,” Dunleavy said.
Funds in the operating budget go to things like senior benefits programs and funding for school construction. Added to that bill Monday was also funding for veteran’s support programs and school bond debt reimbursement.
In the press conference Dunleavy also addressed the ongoing ferry-workers strike and the situation with the University of Alaska.
“It’s not going to be a university that is the be-all, end-all for everyone with this fiscal situation,” he said. On Tuesday the Board of Regents voted to begin consolidation of the university system into a more integrated single administrative organization, hoping to reduce overhead costs.
To the strike Dunleavy said, “we continue to try and come up with a package that both sides can live with,” adding that the state needs more sustainable fiscal policies.
It’s not clear what action the governor will have taken, if any, by Aug. 6 when the House is set to reconvene. Dunleavy said in a previous press conference with reporters that if the work was not done by the end of the special session, he would call another.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or email@example.com.