Alaska House votes against accepting Senate budget plan | National Policy

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska House voted Saturday against accepting a state spending package passed by the Senate that included payments of about $5,500 to residents.

The vote to agree with the Senate package failed, with 18 members in favor of accepting the Senate plan and 22 against. The vote clears the way for a conference committee, with the regular legislative session due to end on Wednesday. In a conference committee, negotiators from the House and Senate are responsible for eliminating the differences between the budgets passed by each house.

The House, in its version of the budget, included a dividend of approximately $1,250 plus an “energy relief” check of $1,300. The Senate plan called for a dividend of about $4,200 from the state’s oil wealth fund, an amount consistent with a longstanding formula last used in 2015. The Senate plan also included an energy check of $1,300.

Typically, the co-chairs of the House and Senate Finance Committees are among the attendees. House Speaker Louise Stutes did not include in her nominations to a conference committee House Finance Co-Chair Neal Foster, who voted to accept the Senate plan. Foster, of Nome, cited the importance of a larger payment to residents in rural areas struggling with high energy costs.

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Some lawmakers have argued that the state benefits from high oil prices and can afford to help struggling Alaskans. But critics of higher payments to residents say oil prices are volatile and the price of oil in the state’s revenue forecast cannot be assured.

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