The state House of Representatives is ready for debate and a vote tomorrow on the operating budget for next year.
The Finance Committee approved a final version of the spending plan this morning.
Anchorage Democrat Mike Doogan cast the only opposition to the plan, saying the state is spending too much money when it’s facing the possibility of decrease in the state’s income if there’s a reversal of oil prices or production.
In my view we have a responsibility to not do what is always done whenever there is any money, which is: everything gets bid up; and then when the money goes away, everything comes down with a thump. If anybody here – or anybody listening – thinks that we’re going to be able to sustain this level of spending … good luck to you.
The committee has worked preparing the budget since the beginning of the session, mostly through subcommittees focusing on separate elements, branches and departments of government. The final changes were made yesterday (Tuesday) with a package of amendments meeting individual member wishes. Those last minute changes – among other things — increased money for the university and returned money that had originally been cut to early education.
Big Lake Republican Mark Neuman said he doesn’t know anyone who thinks budget increases are good – but he asked how to stop them when faced with increased costs of heating or the higher costs of paving a road.
You just can’t stop that. We do our best to do with what we’ve got. I think there’s a lot of efficiencies where we spent a couple of bucks to try and save a couple of bucks in the future. We’re preparing for those days when we don’t have the money. And that’s what I see a lot of in this budget, too. Is it higher than what I want to see? Well, I think it’s higher than everybody wants to see. But sometimes you have to do today to prepare for tomorrow.
The budget will be available for further amendments by the entire House and will be voted on tomorrow (Thursday). From there, it will go to the Senate for consideration.