The Alaska House adjourned late Tuesday night after it approved the state projects budget, while the Senate prepared to wrap up the special legislative session today.
The capital budget was the last major bill on the agenda and House leaders said the Senate has agreed to the changes. They have no other bills on their agenda.
Senate Bill 46 passed the House with a vote of 30-8.
"The biggest difference was our commitment to doing the rest of the major maintenance list for fiscal year (2007)," said House Finance Chairman Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage.
The budget includes funding for construction projects at 20 schools that will receive the money beginning July 1, 2006.
Another 24 schools are receiving money for maintenance this summer. Some 27 remaining schools on the Alaska Department of Education's deferred maintenance list will be eligible for 70 percent reimbursement from the state if approved on municipal ballots by October 2006.
Taking care of all needs on the list was a bi-partisan plan presented by the Senate. But the House disagreed with the Senate's plan to use funding from a sub-account of the Alaska Permanent Fund.
Instead, legislators agreed to use only $30 million per year from earnings from oil royalty settlements in the Amerada Hess account, which is managed by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.
Democrats called this move a "breach of trust" with Alaskans for using the public's money on unnecessary road projects.
The capital budget bill spends about $755 million of state funds for regular and supplemental budgets for the rest of this fiscal year and next year.
"It would do well in a county fair," said House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz, D-Anchorage, referring to its size. The budget is one of the largest in the state's history.
The minority also said the Legislature wasted an opportunity with a surplus of oil revenues to reinstate municipal revenue sharing programs and give schools more funding than the $70 million increase already approved.
"The funding we are giving our schools is still going to mean layoffs for some districts," said Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage.
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