JUNEAU -

The Alaska Constitution requires that the Legislature pass an operating budget before adjourning. On Thursday night, House members voted 32-6 to pass one for fiscal year 2015 after nearly five hours of debate.

The $9 billion House proposal shaves $87 million from Gov. Sean Parnell's original budget proposal in December.

"We're not trying to drag the budget down so fast that it would create some kind of an economic tumbling of the economy of the state," said House Finance Committee Chair Rep. Alan Austerman (R-Kodiak).

Austerman says with projected state revenues declining in the coming years, state spending must be reined in.

The operating budget covers state agencies such as the departments of Natural Resources and Public Safety, as well as the University of Alaska system.

The state is required to set aside at least $703 million to pay for pension obligations in the 2015 fiscal year. Parnell had asked for a $3 billion drawdown from state savings to help cover the overall $12 billion liability.

"If we can meet that challenge and do it in a way that also takes the pressure off the operating budget, that's good for our savings across time as well, because we don't then have to decrease budget savings," Parnell told reporters at a news conference Thursday.

Members of the House's Democratic minority offered 12 amendments to the budget, all of which were rejected. One of the amendments would have added $101 million to the state’s formula for base student allocation, the amount it pays school districts each year for every student they educate.

"Our focus is always on jobs and education," said House Minority Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). "These amendments target proven, cost-effective ways to improve public education at all levels and to help Alaskans get good jobs."

The operating budget now heads to the Senate for approval.