With special session halfway over, Alaska legislators at a stalemate over budget

Gov. Bill Walker signs a proclamation for a special session focused on the budget and long-term spending plan, after lawmakers failed to compromise. (Photo by Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO and Alaska Public Media)

With a special legislative session halfway over, little progress has been made by Alaska legislators toward passing a state budget and addressing a multi-billion dollar state deficit.

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On Thursday, notices were mailed to thousands of state employees warning of potential layoffs if a budget is not finalized by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

Legislative leaders have said they do not want a government shutdown, but they also remain entrenched in positions staked out months ago for how best to address the deficit.

While there’s general agreement that earnings from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund should be used to help fund government, the Republican-led Senate and Democrat-led House majority coalitions disagree over what else is needed for a fiscal plan.

Today, Governor Bill Walker weighed-in on the legislative special session that has yet failed to resolve next year’s budget, and address more than a three billion-dollar gap between state revenues and expenses.

Governor Walker, in an emailed press release, said he talked to members of the House and Senate caucuses and determined their negotiations have reached a stalemate.

Walker called a possible government shutdown “unacceptable” and pledged to work on a compromise package to present to both bodies next week.