Legislature(2017 - 2018)

2018-01-16 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2018-01-16                     House Journal                      Page 2184
HB 283                                                                                                                        
HOUSE BILL NO. 283 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                                                   
the Governor, entitled:                                                                                                         
     "An Act relating to a biennial budget; relating to the salary and per                                                      
     diem of members of the legislature and the governor; and                                                                   
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
was read the first time and referred to the State Affairs and Finance                                                           

2018-01-16                     House Journal                      Page 2185
The following fiscal note(s) apply:                                                                                             
1.  Zero, Office of the Governor/Various Depts.                                                                                 
The Governor's transmittal letter dated January 15 follows:                                                                     
"Dear Speaker Edgmon:                                                                                                           
Under the authority of Article III, Section 18, of the Alaska                                                                   
Constitution, I am transmitting a bill relating to a biennial budget, and                                                       
to the salary and per diem of members of the Legislature and the                                                                
First, this legislation would require the Legislature pass a budget by                                                          
the deadline set by the Alaska public in 2006 - the 90 day of a                                                                 
session. The consequence for not doing so: beginning on day 91 of the                                                           
legislative session, legislators would forfeit per diem, and their salaries                                                     
would be withheld until a budget is passed. Second, the Governor's                                                              
salary would be withheld for as long as he or she is late in submitting                                                         
the budget bill to the Legislature and the public after the December 15                                                         
statutory deadline.                                                                                                             
Finishing budget work on time is critical. Delays in passage of the                                                             
Alaska budget have significant public consequences. For example,                                                                
issuance of motor vehicle licenses and public assistance payments may                                                           
be delayed. School districts are faced with funding uncertainty and are                                                         
forced to send pink slips to teachers and staff. State agencies are                                                             
required under the provisions of collective bargaining agreements to                                                            
submit layoff notices to each public employee in anticipation of a                                                              
government shutdown. The Alaska Marine Highway System cannot                                                                    
publish the ferry schedules in a timely fashion. Economic                                                                       
consequences include uncertainty over time-sensitive fisheries                                                                  
openings, potential delays in issuance of resource development                                                                  
permits, and the list goes on and on.                                                                                           
This legislation would incentivize the Alaska Legislature and                                                                   
Governor to finish their budget work on time, yielding significant                                                              
benefits including ensuring the uninterrupted delivery of service to the                                                        
Alaska public, more certainty for school districts, and improved State                                                          
and local employee morale.                                                                                                      

2018-01-16                     House Journal                      Page 2186
This legislation also proposes converting Alaska's budget process from                                                          
annual to biennial. The Governor would be required to introduce an                                                              
operating, capital, and mental health budget in the first session of each                                                       
two-year Legislature that provides funding for the coming two fiscal                                                            
years. The Legislature would pass a two-year budget by day 90 of the                                                            
first session. During its second session, the Legislature would be able                                                         
to focus on policy bills with far less time devoted to supplemental                                                             
spending and budget amendments.                                                                                                 
The benefits of a responsible biennial budget would be significant,                                                             
including more efficient use of the Legislature's time by avoiding long,                                                        
drawn-out budget battles every session, avoiding the temptation to use                                                          
the budget as a bargaining chip, providing fiscal stability by reducing                                                         
uncertainty about longer term funding levels, improving employee                                                                
morale by avoiding pink slips, allowing longer-range fiscal planning                                                            
for State and local government, and shifting agency and legislative                                                             
staff time from budget preparation to financial management, program                                                             
results, and policy development and implementation.                                                                             
While Alaska will face challenges without a sound and comprehensive                                                             
fiscal plan, biennial budgeting would lay the groundwork for a longer-                                                          
term view on spending and help us focus on a fiscal plan that provides                                                          
stable, predictable revenues.                                                                                                   
At the federal level, congressional leaders, including Speaker of the                                                           
House Paul Ryan (R-WI), have proposed moving the federal budget                                                                 
from annual to biennial; they assert that this would lead to more                                                               
reasoned deliberation and would allow for increased congressional                                                               
In summary, the combined changes proposed in this legislation would                                                             
have significant public benefits and would allow the Governor and the                                                           
Legislature to complete their work on time and effectively in the                                                               
interest of all Alaskans. I urge your prompt and favorable action on                                                            
this measure.                                                                                                                   
Bill Walker