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Alaska House passes supplemental budget

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Alaska House on Wednesday passed a spending package to cover additional current-year expenses, including Medicaid and firefighting costs.

House Finance Committee co-Chair Neal Foster said the bill reflects requests by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. He said the House didn’t add to those.

The package totals $526 million, of which $298.7 million was unrestricted state funds, according to a fiscal analysis. It passed 35-2.

Lawmakers last year approved drawing up to $250 million from the constitutional budget reserve to cover costs if the budget they passed left holes. Legislative Finance Division Director Pat Pitney said a House vote Wednesday would use the account to cover the additional $48.7 million in the supplemental.

The measure has moved quickly. The administration proposed an initial supplemental budget earlier this month and submitted amendments last week. Major items include funding for Medicaid and firefighting costs.

The package now goes to the Senate.

The Legislature last year agreed to cut Medicaid spending, and Dunleavy used his veto authority to reduce spending further but the cuts were not realized to the extent anticipated. Dunleavy’s budget office director has said the state health department found in working with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that some services thought to be optional were not.

The Associated Press