JUNEAU, Alaska We are halfway through the Second Special Session, and tensions remain high.
Last week, Governor Mike Dunleavy amended his call for the session to say that it would officially take place in Juneau. Up to that point, roughly 20 delegates from across the state were in Wasilla, where the governor originally called the session to take place. While the Alaska State Legislature is united in location, a divide is still present.
The house voted on Senate Bill 2002 today, which approves a capital budget for this year. The bill itself passed on the house floor yesterday, but Fairbanks Representative Steve Thompson asked the body to reconsider their vote on the bill after an appropriation to the bill failed.
The appropriation states that money would be pulled from the Budget Reserve Fund to finance a portion of the bill. It would allow a total of $250 million dollars to be drawn from the reserve. It needed a minimum of 30 votes to pass. On Sundays vote, the bill passed 27 to 6, while the appropriation failed 25 to 8. Today's vote was closer, with the bill passing 29 to 7. With the same 7 who voted against the bill not supporting the appropriation, it failed by 1 vote. One of the more surprising votes was cast by House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt. On Sunday he voted against the appropriation, however, he voted in favor of it today.
North Pole Representative Tammie Wilson, who voted against SB 2002, voiced her frustration in the lack of communication during the second special session.
"Why has it become so freakin' political? It doesn't need to be. We're sitting here pitting each other against one another instead of sitting down at the table and compromising and figuring out the operating issues, the capitol issues, the PFD, and doing what's really right for Alaskans. I wish I was a yes today. I want the capital projects. I want the kids to be able to have the scholarship money they earned."
On top of capital budget funding, the legislature still needs to approve this year's PFD amount.