Dunleavy: Wasilla special session to focus on PFD, with capital budget work coming later

Update (1 p.m.)Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media

After spending five months in Juneau, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said lawmakers need a change in venue.

The governor announced Thursday that he is calling the state Legislature to a second special session to set a permanent fund dividend amount. Dunleavy held a press conference Friday in front of Wasilla Middle School, his recommended venue for the session.

He said while there is still work to be done on the capital budget, the dividend is his priority for this session.

“It’s my belief that this PFD has been a sticking issue, the problem in all these discussions,” Dunleavy said. “And I think once we get through the PFD, the issues in the capital budget will be taken care of pretty quickly.”

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks at a press conference in front of Wasilla Middle School.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks at a press conference in front of Wasilla Middle School. Dunleavy called the Legislature to a second special session beginning in July, and he wants the school to be the venue for lawmakers. (Photo by Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

Dunleavy said he imagines a third special session would need to be called to address the capital budget. Legislators did pass an operating budget and a capital budget before adjourning on Thursday. But most of the capital projects weren’t funded.

Dunleavy has yet to sign the operating budget. That’s led to speculation about whether pink slips would be sent to state employees on Monday, signaling that the government could shut down. Dunleavy said he doesn’t plan on sending out layoff notices.

“I think it’s a good thing that we have an operating budget. I think it has avoided a shutdown,” Dunleavy said. “We’re still gonna scrutinize the budget to see where we can make reductions. But essentially we have a budget intact right now, which I think is good for Alaska.”

The final decision on the venue of the second special session is ultimately up to the Legislature. That session is set to start on July 8. Staff from the governor’s office said they are still working through the costs of moving the session from Juneau to Wasilla.

Dunleavy said having the session in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough gives Alaskans on the road system more opportunities to meet with their legislators.

Rashah McChesney with Alaska’s Energy Desk contributed to this report.

Original story — Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy met with the press on Friday morning outside Wasilla Middle School to discuss the operating budget bill the Legislature finalized on Monday, the end of the Legislature’s special session and permanent fund dividends.

A legislative conference committee finished its work on the budget bill on Saturday. The House passed it Sunday in a 22-15 vote. The Senate took it up Monday morning and passed it unanimously, sending it to the governor’s desk. The bill doesn’t address what is perhaps the single biggest issue dividing policymakers this year: permanent fund dividends.

Some legislators want to reduce dividends to pay for state services or protect future dividends. The governor and some legislators want to maintain a payout consistent with the 1982 formula plus make up for past dividend cuts.

Alaska Public Media

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