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Senate Republican Caucus Concerned with Massive Overspending on Capital Budget; Questions Propriety of Ignoring 90-day Session Limit

Juneau - Noting that the Senate majority leadership may have overstepped its bounds by violating the 90-day session limit when it continued to conduct business beyond midnight of April 18, Sen. Con Bunde, R-Anchorage, today questioned whether legislation passed after the deadline might be found illegal by a court.

"It's an odd phenomenon, that we encourage the average Alaskan to do his or her civic duty and get involved with their government, yet, when they do that, and pass an initiative that limits our sessions to 90 days, the majority has no qualms about ignoring that limit," Bunde said. "This is simply the predictable result of poor management of the first 89 days of the session."

"I note that several of the majority's top priority bills, such as the bloated capital budget and the bill to de-couple gas taxes from oil taxes, passed after the deadline. The leadership of the 26th Legislature may not have broken the law, but has certainly broken new ground by ignoring the limit set by the initiative. Does this signal that the Legislature will extend itself as a matter of course in future years?"

Bunde repeated his concern about the size of the capital budget, which spends a total of more than $3 billion. "We have spent far too much now, and will rue the day when realize we have spent our future security to satisfy our current wants, well beyond our needs," Bunde said.

Sen. Tom Wagoner said he was disappointed that the capital bill included $75 million for a new crime lab in Anchorage, a project he has been fighting all session. "Two former directors of the crime lab have made it clear that this project is way bigger and much more costly than the State of Alaska needs," Wagoner said.

Sen. Fred Dyson said he supported the process in the capital budget when it left the Senate. "The House added 28 pages and we had four minutes to look at it," said Dyson. "I cannot approve that amount of spending without some time for analysis."

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