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The Latest: Alaska Senate panel advances education bill

April 13, 2018

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on the Alaska legislative session (all times local):

11:55 a.m.

A key state Senate committee is trying to sweeten the pot to encourage the House to support legislation that would set in law a long-term draw rate from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund.

The Senate Finance Committee on Friday advanced a two-year education funding bill, starting with the fiscal year that begins July 1.

For year two, the bill would not only provide funding but add $30 million for schools. However, that would be contingent upon passage of separate legislation, placing in law a structured draw for use of Alaska Permanent Fund earnings to help pay for state government.

There are no contingencies for the first year of funding.

The bill was released as the House was poised to consider an increase in the per-student funding formula.

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11:20 a.m.

The Alaska Legislature won’t finish its work by Sunday, but legislative leaders don’t believe they will be in Juneau much longer.

Sunday marks the end of the voter-approved 90-day session. Lawmakers have blown past that deadline in recent years amid debate over how to address Alaska’s budget deficit. The constitution permits sessions of up to 121 days.

Senate President Pete Kelly and House Speaker Bryce Edgmon say this session lacks the acrimony of last year, which was marked by a bitter fight over taxes.

This session, both sides intend to use Alaska Permanent Fund earnings to help pay for government. And, they say, they aren’t that far apart on the budget.

Still unresolved is whether lawmakers will approve a long-term plan for using fund earnings and several other priority bills.

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