Alaska's special session ended in dramatic fashion late last night, leaving the state with a capital budget that totals more than 3.2 billion dollars, and Alaskans without a Coastal Management Program. The House adjourned, which forced the Senate to either accept the capital budget "as-is" or leave Alaska without one.
"I would hope the house would not gavel out, without letting that process work," said Senate President Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) during a press conference Saturday evening, before the House adjourned. Stevens and other members of the Senate told reporters they were afraid the House would "dump and run" which would leave them with a capital budget bill they were unhappy with.
"We are concerned that the savings are not as big as they should be, we are concerned about some of the spending in the budget. A lot of money is being spent and the savings are very low," said Stevens.
The abrupt ending killed the state's Coastal Management Program, unless Governor Sean Parnell calls a second special session. The House voted down a compromise crafted by a conference committee working of the Senate's version of the bill, and the Senate refused to adopt a compromise based on the House's version of the bill.
"I don't like it as much as anybody else, but this is our last chance to save this program and from the bottom of my heart I hope we do it," said Representative Beth Kertulla (D-Juneau), shortly before the House voted down the amended program.
The Coastal Management Program will expire July 1st, 2011, and about 30 state jobs will be lost.
"While I share Alaskans' frustration that the Legislature went into overtime over unconstitutional budget language pushed by the Senate Majority, I am pleased about some accomplishments that will foster economic growth and create opportunities for Alaska families," said Parnell in a statement released late Saturday.
Parnell praised the legislature for adding funding for scholarships, Village Public Safety Officers and infrastructure.