What the heck is going on in Juneau? Here’s a Q&A on the Alaska Legislature and the looming shutdown

Tuesday, 27 June 2017, 03:19:54 PM. Confused about what's happening in Juneau as the Alaska Legislature pushes toward a government shutdown? You're not alone.
With the Alaska Legislature unable to pass a budget five months after it started work this year, a state government shutdown is looming on July 1. A shutdown could imperil Alaska's huge summer salmon fisheries, halt road construction and close the state ferry system, causing huge headaches for residents, businesses and tourists. How did we get here and how does it all end? Here's our best shot at an explanation. So, really: What the heck is going on in Juneau? Simultaneously, a lot and not very much. The Alaska Legislature has been in Juneau for five full months, which includes a 90-day regular session that was extended 31 days, plus another 29 days in a special session. The special session, which is capped at 30 days, ends Friday. Lawmakers, prodded by Gov. Bill Walker, have been trying to carry out two distinct tasks that are closely linked: passing an Alaska state government operating budget for the next fiscal year starting July 1, which contains appropriations for the items that are budgeted, and assembling a broader fiscal plan to pay for the budget this year and for years to come. The goal is to fix the structural problem with Alaska's finances caused by the crash in oil prices and long-term decline in production on the North Slope. Both have left the state with a $2.5 billion deficit and unrestricted general fund revenue last year that covered less than half of expenses. The Alaska State Capitol in Juneau on January 20, 2017, (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News) OK,...Read more
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