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Legislation Proposed to Spur Timely Action on Alaska Budget


January 18, 2016
Monday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - In light of Alaska's urgent need to get its fiscal house in order this session, Senator Bill Wielechowski (D–Anchorage) and Representative Scott Kawasaki (D–Fairbanks) will introduce cost-saving legislation to ensure that if legislators do not pass an operating budget within the voter-mandated 90-day session, they will not receive salary or per diem until the work is accomplished. They hope to incentivize legislators to buckle down and focus on the task at hand.

While the State's constitution allows for the Legislative Session to last 120 days, in 2006 the issue was brought to a vote of the people by way of a ballot initiative, and Alaskans opted to shorten the annual session to 90 days.

"Alaskans voted for a 90-day legislative session. It is our job to pass a budget within that timeframe," said Sen. Wielechowski. "I'm hopeful and optimistic that my colleagues support the concept of keeping expenses down, not procrastinating, and getting our work done in the mandated, 90-day session."

If enacted, no legislators would receive paychecks, or the additional daily per diem benefit provided to Legislators for living expenses while in session in Juneau. Regular salaries and benefits would resume once a budget is passed and public service operations are appropriately funded.

"The Legislature needs to be held accountable for passing a budget. We should not be rewarded for failing to do our job in a timely manner," said Rep. Kawasaki.

The second regular session of the Alaska Legislature is set to convene Tuesday, January 19, 2016.



Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


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