The Alaska House Finance Committee is planning to hold public meetings across Alaska on the state budget by the end of March.
House Speaker Bryce Edgmon said the meeting dates and locations will be announced soon. The informational sessions will include brief presentations on Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget proposal, before receiving public testimony.
Edgmon, a Dillingham independent, said the format will allow more Alaskans to speak face-to-face with lawmakers.
“We have a public that’s deeply engaged — perhaps more so than in anyone’s memory — and it’s time, I think, to have the conversation about what Alaskans want in terms of essential services and how to pay for them,” Edgmon said.
House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, an Anchorage Republican, opposes the idea. He said the state has already paid an “incredible amount of money” on the current system of having public testimony at Legislative Information Offices.
“We’re in a budget challenge, and I think spending excessive or additional funds is probably not the wisest decision at this point,” he said.
Edgmon said there will still be traditional public testimony opportunities for Alaskans who live in communities where meetings aren’t being held.