Legislators Examining Two Versions of Budget

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

While legislators have waited for a capital projects budget since long before the end of the regular session last month, they now have two versions to deal with. The House finance Committee and the Senate Finance Committee both approved versions of the budget today. The Senate version will likely head to the floor as early as Tuesday night. House committee co-chair Bill Stoltze says if the Senate version arrives in his committee Wednesday, that will be the version to head to the floor.  The special session must end one week from tonight.

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday unveiled a compromise bill extending the state’s coastal management program for six years – while meeting more needs of the coastal communities who want stronger input into development projects in their areas.

If the legislature doesn’t extend the program it will cease operations by July 1.

Finance co-Chair Lyman Hoffman says he considers the changes to the program this year to be minor, but it sets up smoother review when it comes back up in 2017.  And he says he wants the coastal communities to make the next set of changes when it comes up again.

The Senate bill differs from one passed by the House last month in several key points – it does not let the governor replace at will the local appointees to the Policy Board.  They may only be removed for cause.

The committee held the bill today for more assurances that the administration and the House agree to the changes.

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