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Legislators still have time to do right thing

Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2004

It would be unfair to say nothing was accomplished during the second session of the 23rd Alaska Legislature.

After all, lawmakers did approve an $82 million increase to state education funding, a move that will add a much-needed $7 million to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District's budget for the upcoming year.

Still, it's disappointing that lawmakers left unresolved the most important issue facing the state: its fiscal gap.

It's possible legislators will call themselves into a special session to again take up some important measures that died when the Legislature adjourned, but it's not clear if among those measures will be constitutional amendments capping spending and giving legislators permission to split about $1.3 billion from the permanent fund between dividends and government.

Alaskans are ready for some radical action to deal with the state's budget gap. They don't want the price of oil to plummet before elected officials do something. Our hope is lawmakers will take a brief break, connect with their constituents, realize that Alaskans really want to vote on the constitutional amendments, call themselves back into special session and do what they should have done during the regular session.

Barring that, our hope is Alaskans will remember their inaction and elect a new batch of legislators in November.



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