Alaska capital budget bill fails to pass in the house

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) The bill to fund a revised capital budget for Alaska failed to pass the House of Representatives Sunday afternoon.

After nearly four hours of debate, the bill did not receive the three-quarters supermajority is required to get funding from the constitutional budget reserve.

The debate was largely centered around two topics: the reverse sweep, and the permanent fund dividend. The reserve sweep is an action taken by the legislature every year to move funds from the constitutional budget reserve into the accounts of 53 state programs, including those that fund the Alaska Performance Scholarship as well as the Power Cost Equalization Fund. Many of the funds receive federal funding that matches the state's contribution.

“There’s less than 200 million in state dollars in this bill," says Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Soldotna. "About a billion in federal dollars that’s not hitting the streets. We’re at the end of our construction season, Mr. Speaker. This bill is urgent. There’s a lot of fighting to be had in the other bills. There’s no good reason to delay this bill any longer.”

The reverse sweep has been passed nearly every year since 1991, but more accounts have been added to it over the years. Critics in the house say that many of the funds should not be guaranteed funding every year.

“I am not supporting this sweep Mr. Speaker," says Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole. "Because it’s not just about the higher education fund. It’s not because I don’t care about rural Alaska. It’s because there’s so many funds that should never have been put there, and it’s all or nothing again."

While the PFD is not directly impacted by the capital budget, two of the four amendments proposed for the bill proposed a full statutory PFD. All amendments failed.

The house is set to resume Monday, July 22 at 10 am for a reconsideration vote.

This story is ongoing, and KTUU will update it as more information becomes available.

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