Legislature(2017 - 2018)
2018-01-16 House JournalFull 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 Committees. 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 governor. First, this legislation would require the Legislature pass a budget by th 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 oversight. 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. Sincerely, /s/ Bill Walker Governor"