Alaska House averts government shutdown

Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 5:07 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The prospect of a looming government shutdown in the state of Alaska has been averted.

On Monday, June 28, the Alaska House of Representatives achieved the two-thirds vote necessary to make the state’s budget effective on July 1st, the start of the 2022 Fiscal Year.

27 votes were necessary to change the budget’s effective date. The bill passed with 28.

Interior representatives were split on the action, with Democrats Grier Hopkins and Adam Wool, and Republicans Steve Thompson and Bart Lebon voting yea.

Republicans Mike Prax and Mike Cronk voted nay on the bill.

Independent District 37 Representative Bryce Edgmon spoke about the urgency of the effective date clause, saying, “We have a critical measure in front of us. We’re all trying to avert a government shutdown, do what’s right for Alaska.”

Edgmon added, “We can come to an agreement. We can make this work. We can satisfy the differing opinions that range from one corner of this chamber to the other corner, and we need to get our work done.”

In a press release, Governor Mike Dunleavy acknowledged the passage, saying that when he receives the budget, he will review it and decide on potential line-item vetoes.

The House Floor Session saw disintegrating trust between the House Majority and some members of the Legislature.

Representative Prax spoke on the floor about his disappointment going into the vote. “We weren’t even given the process of which this would go through. Terribly disappointed. We’ll call it, it is, miscommunication. It is, but we have to... unfortunately I have to hold firm. It’s going to be difficult, but we’re going to have to take some difficult steps in order to get this communication going,” the District 3 Representative said.

Work remains to be done during the current special session.

A three-fourths vote is needed in the state House and Senate in order to avoid a loss of funding for various state programs, including college scholarships and Power Cost Equalization which helps lower the cost of power in rural areas of the state.

The House also voted on a statement in favor of creating a bipartisan working group to develop a fiscal plan for presentation at the next special session in August.

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