Alaska Legislature adjourns after passing $10.4 billion operating budget

Spending increases from last year as legislators seek to meet public requests

The Alaska Legislature adjourned its 2018 session just before 2 a.m. Sunday morning after passing a $10.4 billion state operating budget that funds ferries, health care and everyday services through summer 2019.

For the first time in state history, the budget includes significant funding from the Alaska Permanent Fund.

“I believe it’s historic that we are using what many refer to as the ‘rainy day account’ for the first time,” said Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, speaking on behalf of the Senate Majority shortly before it voted to approve the budget.

The budget now advances to Gov. Bill Walker for consideration.

In the Legislature’s final day, which extended past midnight, lawmakers passed a raft of new legislation, including things as varied as a statewide raffle to benefit education and a measure allowing distilleries to serve mixed cocktails.

The operating budget is larger than the one passed by the Legislature last year, and more spending was included in the state’s capital construction and renovation budget. Many lawmakers felt the state had cut its budget too far last year, with negative consequences as a result.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, said spending was higher than had been sought by the Senate Majority, which includes 12 Republicans and one Democrat, but lawmakers needed to compromise to end the session before its 121-day constitutional limit.

Read the rest of this Juneau Empire story by clicking here.

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