House and Senate adjourn; Governor calls special session

Drew Phoenix left and his girlfriend Ellen Robertson talk about a ballot initiative going before local voters that calls for equal legal protections for gay and transgender residents in Anchorage Alaska. Th

House and Senate adjourn; Governor calls special session

Wednesday marked a constitutional deadline for Alaska lawmakers to end their regular session.

House and Senate leaders early on laid out plans for addressing the deficit that are significantly different. But with a budget and plan for addressing Alaska's multibillion-dollar deficit unresolved, more time was needed.

Options included extending the session for another 10 days, which requires two-thirds support in each chamber, or looking to Gov. Bill Walker to call a special session. After four months in session, there is little indication that either side is willing to yield on what it sees as the best path forward.

Both House and Senate permanent fund bills would change how the annual dividend Alaskans receive from the fund is calculated and initially limit its size.

Edgmon, a Democrat from Dillingham, said that ideally the House would be working on fiscal issues with the Senate.

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon said the tension and ante have been upped now that lawmakers are in special session.

Lawmakers are not required to pass legislation dealing with all of these subjects, but they are limited to what's on the governor's agenda and can not add any other items.

"At this point, obviously, we need the governor to lead the House majority to narrow the focus", Millett said Tuesday.

Sen. John Coghill said he was disappointed the agenda did not include a bill that contained what were seen as more substantive changes to criminal justice legislation passed a year ago.

Lawmakers did pass some other non-budget measures before adjourning, including a bill to bring ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to Alaska. That bill now goes to Walker for consideration.

The coalition House Majority proposed a four-part plan including a state income tax, cuts to the state subsidy of oil and gas drilling, spending from the Permanent Fund's investment earnings, and modest budget cuts.

The House and Senate also remain at odds over oil tax and credit policy. The Senate, meanwhile, has rejected the income tax bill passed by the House and proposed limits on future state spending. While there's general agreement about ending cashable tax credits, House majority members have favoured additional tax changes.

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