Legislature(1995 - 1996)

1996-01-08 House Journal

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1996-01-08                     House Journal                      Page 2380
HB 402                                                                       
HOUSE BILL NO.  402 by the House Rules Committee by request of                 
the Governor, entitled:                                                        
An Act making a supplemental appropriation from the general                   
fund to cover shortfalls in federal receipts caused by an impasse              
in enacting the 1996 federal budget; relieving conditions on the               
expenditure of general fund matching appropriations; and                       
providing for an effective date.                                               
was read the first time and referred to the State Affairs, Labor &             
Commerce and Finance Committees.                                               
The Governors transmittal letter dated January 8, 1996, appears below:         
Dear Speaker Phillips:                                                         
Under the authority of art. III, sec. 18 of the Alaska Constitution, I am      
transmitting a bill making a supplemental appropriation that would             
provide "bridge financing" from the general fund to operate certain            
federally-funded activities pending resolution of the federal budget           
impasse and making necessary changes related to conditions on certain          
fiscal year 1996 appropriations.                                               
The President and the Congress have been deadlocked over the                   
proposed enactment of several appropriation bills.  These bills contain        
amounts that would finance administrative costs and benefit payments           
for several programs providing essential assistance to Alaskans.  The          
most pressing concern is caused by the lack of timely receipt of federal       
money to pay employees of the division of employment security in the           
Department of Labor.  This division is responsible for the payment of          
unemployment insurance benefits to over 19,000  families.  The                 
administrative costs of this division are financed from the part of the        

1996-01-08                     House Journal                      Page 2381
HB 402                                                                       
federal budget that is in dispute between the President and Congress.          
Federal money to pay the salaries of employees engaged in operating            
the occupational safety and health programs of the state (OSHA) may            
also be unavailable during the impasse. Section 2 of the bill makes an         
appropriation from the general fund to provide the necessary "bridge           
Other essential benefit programs administered by the Department of             
Health and Social Services are nearing the end of available federal            
money.  These programs include Medicaid, aid to families with                  
dependent children, and "meals on wheels".  Our ability to carry on            
with the provision of benefits is not immediately threatened because           
these programs also receive general fund matching money that could             
be expended on an accelerated basis to cover the immediate costs of            
Section 3 of the bill contains a provision that would authorize program        
managers to spend matching money without regard to any requirement             
to also receive corresponding federal money.                                   
All of the foregoing provisions would be made subject to the express           
intent that the Administration do whatever is necessary to recover full        
reimbursement from the federal government.  There has been no                  
suggestion from the responsible federal agencies that reimbursement            
would be unavailable upon enactment of the federal budget.                     
Responsible state officials will be instructed to do whatever is               
necessary to preserve our limited general fund money.  The advice of           
the legislative budget and audit committee concerning this matter was          
sought during a special meeting held in Juneau on January 5, 1996.             
Depending on recent developments in the Congress, it may not be                
necessary to provide for immediate "bridge financing." However, as             
suggested by members of the legislative budget and audit committee,            
it is prudent to introduce this bill so that it may serve as the vehicle       
for addressing any other problems that may arise during the federal            
budget impasse.                                                                

1996-01-08                     House Journal                      Page 2382
HB 402                                                                       
I urge your favorable consideration of this bill.                              
							Tony Knowles