State House passes a budget

The Alaska House has passed a state operating budget rejecting the level of cuts proposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, sending it to the Senate for further work.

Cuts were made to areas like the university system, ferry system and Medicaid though lawmakers were told the state has flexibility to make some additional Medicaid cuts.

Minority House Republicans unsuccessfully sought continued debate on proposed amendments, including some they said dealt with Alaska Permanent Fund dividends.

This year’s dividend will be closely watched amid the broader budget debate, with Dunleavy calling for a full payout and lawmakers weighing smaller checks to afford government services.

Permanent Fund earnings are used for dividends and to help pay for government.

House Finance Committee Co-chair Neal Foster said the dividend will be dealt with later.

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