Senate Finance introduces initial step to long-range plan

Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- The Senate Finance Committee introduced a package of bills on Monday that Co-Chairman Dave Donley said is the first step in developing a long-range fiscal plan.

It includes no taxes and no spending of Permanent Fund earnings. Donley, R-Anchorage, said the state will need ''additional revenue'' but the package of bills is needed before the public will accept a long-range plan that includes broad-based taxes.

''The first step in such a plan should be continued government reform to create a more efficient and fairer state government,'' Donley said.

The package includes a measure that would update geographic pay differentials for state employees. Donley said that would save $312,000 a year. Another proposal would limit municipal bonding capacity. That measure could save more than $100 million a year within 10 years, Donley said.

Donley also proposes a constitutional amendment that would change the provisions of the Constitutional Budget Reserve so that a three-quarters vote wouldn't be required for the Legislature to draw from the fund, unless the Legislature proposes spending more than it did in the previous year. Bringing Democrats on board to tap the budget reserve forces spending up, Donley said.

Senate Minority Leader Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage, said he's had no time to look at the package of bills and couldn't comment on it.

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