Alaska lawmakers open special session

Drew Phoenix left and his girlfriend Ellen Robertson talk about a ballot initiative going before local voters that calls for equal legal protections for gay and transgender residents in Anchorage Alaska. Th

The Latest: Edgmon: Support to extend appears insufficient

Alaska lawmakers are headed for a special session after adjourning Wednesday night without coming up with a long-term fiscal plan or passing an operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

House and Senate leaders early on laid out plans for addressing the deficit that are significantly different.

Alaska legislators are set to convene a special session called by Gov. Bill Walker to complete work on a budget and plan for addressing a multibillion-dollar state deficit. Under a special session called by the governor, the agenda would be limited to items he puts on it. But the two sides are at odds over how best to move forward.

As of press time on Wednesday, both the House and the Senate remained in session.

Alaska House Speaker Bryce Edgmon says there doesn't appear to be support at this point to extend the legislative session by another 10 days.

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Meanwhile, the Republican-led Senate, which rejected the House's income tax bill, has proposed limits on future state spending and cuts to public education and the university system that the House majority opposes.

On the tax issue, Hoffman's co-chair, Anna MacKinnon, said that if the House has a different revenue measure in mind, the Senate would be happy to consider it. But the North Pole Republican said he understands the need for a narrow focus.

Over the last month, work has continued, particularly in the House, on bills not related to the budget or a fiscal fix. Bills on the House's lengthy floor calendar Wednesday included a measure that would bar wolf hunting and trapping in certain areas adjacent to Denali National Park and Preserve and legislation that included what were seen as technical fixes to a sweeping criminal justice measure passed past year. The measure next goes to Gov. Bill Walker for consideration.

The House and Senate have proposed using earnings from the state's oil-wealth fund, the Alaska Permanent Fund, to help cover costs but disagree on what else is needed.

The House majority has insisted on a broad-based tax, like an income tax, and changes to oil tax and credit policy as part of an overall solution. While there's general agreement about ending cashable tax credits, House majority members have favoured additional tax changes.

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