The House of Representatives at the Alaska State Capitol. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The House of Representatives at the Alaska State Capitol. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Republican lawmaker leaves House majority over budget vote

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux votes to accept Senate’s version with full PFD.

The bipartisan Alaska House majority lost one of its Republican members Friday, ahead of what are expected to be difficult negotiations over the budget and size of the check to pay residents from the state’s oil-wealth fund.

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux was the only member of the House majority coalition Friday to vote to accept the Senate’s version of the budget, saying she saw it as perhaps her only opportunity to vote for a full dividend payout from Alaska Permanent Fund earnings.

The Senate budget follows the calculation that has been ignored the last three years amid an ongoing budget deficit and would produce checks estimated around $3,000 each. However, Senate leaders have said that figure could still change. With a full dividend, the Senate budget has a $1.2 billion hole that would still need to be filled.

The budget that passed the House did not include a dividend amount, with leadership on that side saying the dividend would be debated separately later.

LeDoux said she expected her vote would mean she was out of the caucus. She said she was at peace with her decision, noting the importance of the dividend to her constituents.

“The deal is that you vote for the budget and you vote for procedural votes or you leave the caucus — and I’m willing to live with the consequences,” she told reporters.

The caucus’ press secretary, Austin Baird, confirmed that LeDoux was no longer part of the caucus, which would leave it with 24 of the House’s 40 members.

This move comes as the Legislature aims to complete its work by mid-month. Major issues remain to be resolved, including legislation addressing crime and agreement on the budget and size of this year’s dividend amount.

There is disagreement in various caucuses over the size of the dividend. Gov. Mike Dunleavy has called for a full dividend.

Typically, the House passes a budget that is reworked by the Senate and sent back to the House for agreement. Generally the House rejects the Senate rewrite, and the budget goes a conference committee, where negotiators work on a compromise.

One big issue, aside from the dividend, is a Senate proposal to move $13 billion from fund earnings to its principal, a move supporters say is intended to help fortify the fund and prevent overspending from earnings. At the end of March, the earnings reserve was valued at $18.4 billion.

House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, an Anchorage Republican, is among those who have raised concerns with the size of that transfer.


• This is an Associated Press report by Becky Bohrer.


More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora Forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Feb. 5

Chunks of ice break off the Perito Moreno Glacier, in Lake Argentina, at Los Glaciares National Park, near El Calafate, in Argentina's Patagonia region, March 10, 2016. As glaciers melt and pour massive amounts of water into nearby lakes, 15 million people across the globe live under the threat of a sudden and deadly outburst flood, a new study finds. (AP Photo / Francisco Munoz)
Study: 15 million people live under threat of glacial floods

More than half of those are in just four countries: India, Pakistan, Peru and China.

A porcupine dines in mid-August near the Mendnehall Glacier. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
On the Trails: Putting a finer point on porcupines

Plants such as roses and devil’s club aren’t the only prickly ones…

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023

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

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Edward Richards, left, a high school student in the Sitka School District, talks about the lack of mental health services in Alaska’s public schools as part of the testimony also offered by district Superintendent Frank Hauser, center, and student Felix Myers during a Senate Education Meeting on Monday at the Alaska State Capitol. The committee is proposing a 17% increase in the state’s school funding formula, which was remained essentially flat since 2017.
School’s in at the Capitol

Students and education leaders from around state make case for more classroom cash.

Folks at the Alaska State Capitol openly admit to plenty of fish tales, but to a large degree in ways intended to benefit residents and sometimes even the fish. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
The bizarre bills other state legislatures are considering

Alaska’s Legislature isn’t mulling the headline-grabbers some statehouses have in the works.

This photo shows snow-covered hills in the Porcupine River Tundra in the Yukon Territories, Canada. In July 1997, a hunter contacted troopers in Fairbanks, Alaska, and reported finding a human skull along the Porcupine River, around 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Canadian border. Investigators used genetic genealogy to help identify the remains as those of Gary Frank Sotherden, according to a statement Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, from Alaska State Troopers. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)
Skull found in ‘97 in Interior belongs to New York man

A skull found in a remote part of Alaska’s Interior in 1997… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023

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

Most Read