We passed an operating budget.  Now what? 
June 28, 2017
Dear Neighbor, 

Last Thursday, on the 157th day of session, the Alaska State Legislature finally passed an operating budget.  And with 7 days to spare until a government shutdown.   
Today, a week out from that vote, I still have very mixed emotions.  On the one hand, I am pleased we have passed a budget.  On the other, the instability caused by the looming threat of a shutdown is terrible for Alaskans and our economy.  Without a solid fiscal plan, I can’t see what would make next year’s budget fight any different.  But we should not, as a body, congratulate ourselves for simply avoiding the worst-case scenario.  Passing a budget is our constitutional obligation.  This is the third year the legislature has found itself in this position. And I'm afraid we will be here again next year.  
Before voting for the Operating Budget, I made some remarks on the Senate Floor that I have included, should you wish to watch them.  In short, I said that while tensions had run high with so much at stake, I hoped we could all come back with clean states and a commitment to work together for what is best for Alaska.
I also thanked the members of the Conference Committee for the hard work put in to get this budget to the floor.  And in the end, this budget looks very much like that passed by our House Majority colleagues back in April (see sidebar to the left for more details). 
I am not certain what happens next.  There is still a lot of work to be done to pass a full, comprehensive fiscal plan, oil and gas reform, and a capital budget.  I am confident we can get there in time to pass a budget in a timely manner next year.  One that reflects our values and creates the framework for the kind of state we all want to live in and be part of.  In the meantime, I hope you’ll be in touch with your thoughts and ideas.  
All my best,
Senator Tom Begich 
Senate District J

 (907) 465-3704 in Anchorage