House Approves $9.5-Billion Budget

The House has approved spending more than $9.5-Billion for the operations of state government – some $6-Billion of it in state revenue.  Finance Co-Chair Bill Thomas  said the plan would require oil prices to average about a hundred dollars a barrel next year to avoid deficit spending.  Thomas didn’t disagree with critics who said they were spending too much money.

We’ve tried to slow government by spending down and reducing the governor’s proposal.   But even so, budgets are still huge.  At least we made an effort at it.  I believe this is a responsible budget that meets the needs of Alaskans while keeping an eye to the future.

Thomas told members that the budget spends $1.5-Billion on education.  Health and Social Services expenses total more than $2.6-Billion.

Anchorage Democrat Les Gara said there were some things in the budget with which he disagreed.  However,  he liked a lot of it, too.

The budget turned out okay in my mind.  The budget is one that moves Alaska forward.  At a roughly four percent increase over last year, it’s roughly at the rate of inflation and population growth.  So I think it’s a responsible budget.

Anchorage’s Mike Doogan and four other Democrats rejected the plan. Doogan reinforced the comments he made when the bill moved out of the Finance Committee.  He said it simply spends too much money.

I’d really like to vote for this budget.  I’d like to reward all the hard work that’s been done, all the difficult choices that have been made and all the good that this is going to do.  But I wouldn’t live with myself if I did that and then went out the door to leave everybody else to pay the price for what I’d done.

The operating budget next goes to the Senate,  then a conference committee to work out the differences the two bodies have.