Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, is seen before the start of a session of the Alaska Senate on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
The Alaska Senate made no significant changes on Monday to a $6.2 billion proposed state budget for the coming year, and the Legislature remains on schedule for the Senate to present the state House with a final “take it or leave it” proposal on Wednesday, the final day of the regular legislative session.
If House legislators reject that proposal, Gov. Mike Dunleavy is expected to call the Legislature into a 30-day special session to finish work on the budget, which is needed for state services to continue operating past July 1.
Altogether, the budget drafted by the Senate includes almost $14.4 billion in spending when federal spending and fee-funded programs are included.
Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, said on Monday that negotiations between the House and Senate are continuing, and that the Senate could make additional amendments on Tuesday in response to House requests.
If the House were to request changes — and if the Senate adopts them — it would increase the odds that the House will concur with the Senate’s budget proposal, bringing the legislative session to an end on time.
But on Monday evening, with members of the House’s 23-person majority caucus talking behind closed doors, that wasn’t certain.
The House majority hasn’t presented the Senate with a formal list of requests, Stevens said, and both House and Senate remain separated on the issue of the Permanent Fund dividend.
The House has voted in favor of a dividend of about $2,700 per recipient, but senators on Monday rejected multiple proposals to increase the Permanent Fund dividend beyond about $1,300 per person.
Senators also declined, by an 11-9 vote, to fund a program that would have the state take over a federally run permit program that regulates construction in wetlands. That takeover was supported by the House.
House and Senate are scheduled to convene at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
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