Senate’s Contingency Language Fuels Debate

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

Nine days into the special legislative session, there has been no visible progress on the major issues that led to a stalemate at the end of the regular session.

While the Senate has made some concessions in its version of the Capital Budget, the big disagreement with the House is over the use of contingency language to protect projects from threatened gubernatorial vetoes.  Anchorage Democrat Hollis French brought up the subject on the Senate floor Tuesday – supporting Finance Co-Chair Bert Stedman, of Sitka, for adding the protection.

He called it “inverted logic” for the governor to threaten vetoes depending on lawmakers’ support for a bill cutting oil company taxes.  And he said the Finance Committee was trying to provide a $400 million, statewide energy program while the governor was – “swinging his veto axe.”

French referred to the Governor’s position on the subject when he was a member of the Senate.  In 1997, Parnell voted for a budget that contained several sections of contingency language.

Minority Leader Charlie Huggins argued that, while he likes the thought of an “omnipotent” legislature, he recognizes the need for a balance of power. He said the issues now center on how the two sides come to a solution “with dignity.”

Neither House nor Senate Finance Committees met Tuesday – and there was no business conducted during floor sessions. All are rescheduled for tomorrow.

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