Senate, House clash over funding

Posted: Friday, March 17, 2000

The House and Senate don't agree on which programs need money fast.

A Senate bill, currently a $10.4 million measure intended to pay for emergencies and state services in need of money soon, will likely head to a conference committee next week.

Sen. Sean Parnell, an Anchorage Republican and co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he doesn't agree with a couple of items the House has put into the ``fast track'' supplemental bill.

``I don't think we're going to take everything they did,'' Parnell said today.

The House was scheduled to vote on its version of the bill today. If it's approved, Parnell said, and still includes $8 million for power cost equalization and $2.1 million to pay for school busing, the measure will need a conference committee to get to a version representatives and senators can agree on.

The House covered the cost of the power program, which keeps electricity costs down in the Bush, with a one-time pot of money.

Busing was covered with excess money left over from a formula that pays for K-12 education across the state.

The Senate is looking into why the cost of busing students keeps going up.

``We're not under the impression that it's time sensitive,'' Parnell said.

Rep. Eldon Mulder, an Anchorage Republican and co-chairman of the House Finance Committee, said he thinks the Senate is making a mistake on busing and the power program.

So does Annalee McConnell, budget director for Gov. Tony Knowles. The House version of the measure, she said, pretty much covers her concerns.

Also excluded from the House version of the bill is $900,000 included by Parnell to pay the legal price of defending state rights on a variety of issues, including right-of-way disputes with the federal government and authority over submerged lands in Glacier Bay.

The $400,000 item for the Legislature and a corresponding $500,000 for the Department of Law were removed in committee after Parnell and Mulder agreed to delete them.

Mulder said the items were taken out because of the ``rancor'' that surrounded them. That rancor came after Democrats questioned the need for the money and Parnell accused the administration of asking for money behind closed doors, then denying the request publicly.

Parnell said he doesn't recall who exactly asked for the legislative legal money. He said the issue is over though he continued to assert the Knowles administration asked for the cash.

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