Senate panel proposes changes to legislative budget

JUNEAU — A legislative panel on Thursday proposed reducing funds for Senate travel and for the division responsible for the statewide network of legislative information offices.

Handouts provided for the Senate subcommittee overseeing the Legislature’s budget identified information offices in four communities that would become “session-only” offices if a $250,000 reduction were adopted. But subcommittee chair Sen. Pete Kelly asked that the language be removed. Kelly said that issue will be discussed further by the full Senate Finance Committee, and he said the proposed reduction could come from somewhere else.

The subcommittee proposal would reduce the Senate operating budget by $150,000, with $100,000 of that reduction coming from travel. Kelly, R-Fairbanks, said senators would be required to travel using their office accounts.

The panel adopted numerous measures recommended by a House subcommittee, including reducing House office accounts from up to $16,000 a year to $12,000 a year and five-day furloughs for full-time legislative employees. Unlike the House side, it included $4 million for Anchorage office space. Lawmakers have not yet decided how to proceed on office space in the capital city.

Once the budget passes the House and Senate, differences between the two versions will be sorted out through a conference committee.

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