Latest budget attempt hits the House floor Wednesday

Voices of Alaska: It's time to accept the governor's compromise

In a joint statement, the three Republican members of the Senate said GOP senators never wavered from their stance on income tax reform or the budget.

A bill allowing for the furlough of state employees in a declared fiscal emergency is now heading to a conference committee.

But instead, what resulted was a non-decision. Most House Republicans opposed the budget plan, which would use the entire $200 million in forecasted revenue from the Revenue Estimating Conference.

"Without meaningful tax reform, the only option that remains is to pass a budget that spends only to the revenue line we are provided by the governor, and make significant cuts to live within our means", Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns said.

"But it became clear today that no compromise was able to be reached between the majorities in the House and the Senate".

When the bill came before the house, House Majority Leader Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, urged the Senate to recede from its changes, saying the furlough divisions in the bill were "confusing and cumbersome".

Members of the conference committee plan to sign the compromise bills - the spending plan and a companion bill making necessary policy changes - on Thursday and send them back to the full House and Senate for a vote.

On Tuesday, members approved new revenue figures that estimate $4.93 billion in revenue during fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

Most significantly, the report did not reduce or otherwise affect the state's personal income tax, which was the biggest priority for Senate Republicans. Both versions of the budget also would have the Department of Health delay $146 million worth of payments already owed to people who provide health care to Medicaid patients in the next budget cycle; this could delay payments sometime next year to to hospitals and doctors.

Republican Senators voted Tuesday night to close that remaining gap by cutting almost $35 million from higher education institutions across the state and another $35 million from Medicaid-money that the federal government matches 3-to-1. Tony Bacala, R-Prairieville. "We need to base our budget on last year's budget, and it we avoid looking at last year's budgets, it's insane". "They're certainly not desired, but spending reductions had to be made somewhere". In April, members of the New Hampshire House Freedom Caucus helped defeat the budget after arguing it spent too much money.

"And that's really what our discussion is about", he said, "whether you're going to appropriate this money or whether you're not going to appropriate the money".

House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, left the podium and addressed House members from the floor.

Debate on the capital budget was expected Tuesday. That bill spends about $60 million more than the Senate version and could be put to a vote in the chamber as early as Wednesday.

Senate Finance Committee Co-chair Anna MacKinnon said she was in communication with the House Finance co-chairs over the weekend and said the House had taken some steps with the capital budget that the Senate sees as favorable.

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