Cost to agree on Alaska’s budget: $886,000 for two special sessions

JUNEAU — Alaska’s two special sessions, held earlier this year as lawmakers struggled to agree on a state budget, cost more than $886,000, according to figures provided by the Legislative Affairs Agency.

Jessica Geary, the agency’s finance manager, said Tuesday that some claims could still come in and that figure could increase, but she expects the vast majority of claims already have been submitted.

The figure doesn’t include the cost of extending the regular session by eight days. The costs of the extended session aren’t tracked since that is part of the regular session, Geary said in a recent email, though the agency did provide the total for the daily allowance allotted lawmakers, known as per diem, for that period, about $105,700.

Legislators went into overtime after failing to reach a budget deal. The extended regular session ended April 27, when lawmakers passed a partially funded budget. Gov. Bill Walker called them into a special session that began the next day.

That special session, called for Juneau, featured an 11-day break in floor sessions amid the stalemate during which lawmakers scattered and numerous hearings were held in Anchorage.

On May 21, lawmakers ended that session and convened a special session of their own in Anchorage, citing as a reason for the move renovation work at the Capitol in Juneau. That special session lasted about three weeks, culminating in a budget deal. Legislators also passed a bill requiring that school districts develop programs aimed at raising awareness of and preventing sexual assault and dating violence.

The figures provided by Legislative Affairs showed tallied costs of $440,230 for the first special session and $446,246 for the second.