Gov. Mike Dunleavy has made a call for the legislature to convene for another special session. The plan is to hold this session in Wasilla on July 8 at 1 PM. The central topic will be the payment of the Permanent Fund Dividend.
The legislature has already approved the capital budget brought forward earlier, but it neglected to greenlight the financing channels needed to distribute the money. As a result, around 100 million dollars’ worth of state programs were left without the funding they require.
The Alaska House Democratic majority voted to prevent this in order to stabilize costs to rural Alaska’s growing energy costs and to bolster funds for college grants and scholarships. They suggested drawing from the Constitutional Budget Reserve in order to cover these items.
A majority of 30 out of 40 members could have given the go-ahead to the proposal. The Republican minority said it would agree to this under the condition that the full dividends of $3000 were paid for in 2019. This proposition made by the minority failed.
Not approving the methods of paying the budget can result in a series of items losing the bulk of their funding. Road construction risks being denied a significant chunk of the 1 billion dollars allotted to it. This could end in many workers losing their jobs.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s call for the second special session does not include any mention of addressing the capital budget, so it is not certain if it will be a topic of discussion. Whether a government shutdown will take place also remains unknown, since the governor could veto the operating budget in its entirety.
Gov. Dunleavy stated that the change of venue for the special sessions serves to return the spotlight to the people in legislators’ minds. He also believes that resolving the PFD issue will make all adjacent matters easier to address.
Bryce Edgmon, a Dillingham independent lawmaker and House Speaker, remarked that the capital budget needs to be passed by July 1, lest it not receive matching federal funding. He also said that the legislature is considering other locations for it to convene.