Notices warning state employees of potential layoffs if a fully funded budget is not approved by July 1 were being prepared for mailing at a state office building on Monday, June 1, 2015, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

Notices warning state employees of potential layoffs if a fully funded budget is not approved by July 1 were being prepared for mailing at a state office building on Monday, June 1, 2015, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

Layoff notices prepared as budget debate continues

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Monday, June 1, 2015 10:56pm
  • News

JUNEAU — Nearly 10,000 state employees were set to receive layoff notices as the legislative impasse over a state spending plan wore on Monday. Gov. Bill Walker went so far as to offer the services of a mediator to help lawmakers come to terms.

The Alaska Senate on Monday passed a version of the budget similar to what lawmakers passed in late April as a way to force negotiations between the House and Senate. The House, which had passed its own version of the budget early Saturday, rejected the Senate bill Monday evening, setting the stage for a conference committee.

Notices warning of layoffs if a budget isn’t passed by July 1 were being prepared for mailing at the state office building in Juneau Monday morning while the Senate began debate in Anchorage on a version of the budget meant to spur further negotiations. Notices were taken to be mailed Monday afternoon, a Department of Administration spokesman said. Walker called the notices a contractual and moral obligation.

Early Monday afternoon, departments also began sending out releases describing how they would be affected by a partial government shutdown. And Walker announced that he had taken the unusual step of retaining a mediator to help lawmakers come to terms, a service he said he was offering but could not force on legislators.

The Legislature had been scheduled to adjourn April 19. But failure to reach a budget agreement sent lawmakers into overtime, with the House failing to secure the 30 votes generally required to access the constitutional budget reserve to help cover costs. Support from the Democratic-led minority is needed to reach that threshold but the House minority opposed proposed cuts to education funding and the rejection of cost-of-living increases in negotiated union contracts, among other things.

The state faces projected multibillion-dollar deficits amid low oil prices and will need to use savings to get by. Alaska has billions of dollars in reserves but disagreements over how much to spend, and what to spend money on, have led to the current predicament.

Throughout the two special sessions, the Senate let the House take the lead on the budget because that side had trouble securing the budget reserve vote. But the Senate Finance Committee on Sunday did not agree to a compromise between the House majority and minority and instead advanced a version of the budget similar to what legislators passed in late April to keep talks going. Senators balked at some of the terms aimed at garnering sufficient minority support to authorize a draw from savings, including giving pay increases at a time of huge deficits and when state positions are being cut.

The proposal advanced by the Senate would cut the per-student funding formula by $16.5 million for the coming fiscal year, but provide $16.1 million outside the formula, a provision billed as providing some flexibility in further negotiations.

The Senate took an hours-long break Monday before voting along caucus lines to send that plan to the House.

Talks had been taking place between House Minority Leader Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, and Senate President Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, according to the press secretaries for the respective caucuses.

More in News

A cruise ship is docked in Seward, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Cruise passengers encouraged to test before docking in Seward

The request comes as new COVID cases are increasing in Alaska

In this July 13, 2007, photo, workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, near the village of Iliamma. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing restrictions that would hinder plans for a copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region. It is the latest in a long-running dispute over efforts by developers to advance a mine in a region known for its salmon runs. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)
Restrictions proposed in Pebble Mine fight

Critics of the project called the move an important step in a yearslong fight to stop the mine

Armands Veksejs, Hager Elserry, Dady Thitisakulwong, and Haewon Hong attend a farewell potluck barbecue in Nikiski on Monday, May 23, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘A life in a year’

Foreign exchange students receive send-off in Nikiski

A man fishes in the Kenai River on July 16, 2018, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion/file)
Ninilchik River and Deep Creek to open sport fishing

Sport fishing will be open for three upcoming weekends

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, stands in the Peninsula Clarion offices on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Micciche will not seek reelection

His announcement comes a week after the end of the 32nd Alaska Legislature

The Boney Courthouse in downtown Anchorage, across the street from the larger Nesbett Courthouse, holds the Alaska Supreme Court chambers. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska redistricting board picks new Senate map after Supreme Court finds a gerrymander

The board could continue work and possibly write a different map for the elections from 2024 onward

A landslide blocks Lowell Point Road in Seward, Alaska, on Sunday, May 8, 2022. (Photo courtesy City of Seward)
Lowell Point Road to reopen Friday

Intermittent blasting work will continue next week

Members of the Kenai City Council participate in a council meeting on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Boys and girls clubs land donation postponed

The issue will be back before the body on June 1

Most Read