JUNEAU (AP) -- The state House unanimously rejected the Senate's version of the operating budget Tuesday and the Senate rejected the House's spending plan.
The moves set the stage for a conference committee to begin working out differences between the two $2.2 billion packages for fiscal year 2002.
Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz said the anti-abortion language added to the budget by the Senate amounts to a blackmail clause that would shut down government. That measure calls for the Health and Social Services Department budget to fail if a judge rules the state must fund abortions for poor women.
Rep. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, defended the Senate's action, calling it an attempt to protect the separation of powers and the Legislature's constitutional authority to set policy.
The Senate's spending plan was voted down 34-0. Later, the Senate voted 14-to-6 to reject proposed House changes to the budget.
House Speaker Brian Porter named House Finance Committee Co-chairs Eldon Mulder and Bill Williams and Fairbanks Democrat John Davies to the conference committee on the operating budget. Senate President Rick Halford said he would appoint Senate members of the conference committee on the operating budget Wednesday.
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