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Alaska governor calls special sessions on budget, spending

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Thursday called a special session that would begin next week, after the current regular session ends, and focus on the budget and his proposals for the annual check residents receive from the state’s oil-wealth fund.

He also announced a second special session, scheduled to begin Aug. 2, that would address topics including a proposed spending limit, revenue and spending of federal recovery aid dollars.

Both special sessions would be in Juneau.

The first special session is scheduled to begin May 20, the day after the scheduled end of the regular session.

Key pieces remain unresolved, including state budgets and a decision on the size of this year’s permanent fund dividend. There also has been interest in trying to resolve the ongoing debate over the dividend with possible changes to how the dividend is calculated.

Dunleavy, in a statement, said it was clear from conversations with legislative leaders that more time is needed to complete work on the budget and to address “a long-term, permanent solution to protecting” the nest-egg permanent fund and permanent fund dividend.

“Nothing is more important than giving Alaskans a long-term solution to our fiscal challenges, and this session is an important first step,” he said.

Before learning of the special session plans, Senate Democratic Leader Tom Begich said his preference would be to finish the budget in the current session and have lawmakers take a break before going into a special session on the dividend issue.

After learning Dunleavy’s plans, he said legislators need a break of maybe five or 10 days “to get our perspective back.” Begich said a 30-day special session allows for that.

Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press