Special Session called, DHSS risks budget cuts

Alaska Governor Bill Walker has called the Legislature into a Special Session after the House and Senate failed to pass a budget.

The 30-day special session opened this morning.

Governor Walker’s Executive Proclamation says the Special Session will focus on

The Legislature needs to pass a budget before the fiscal year begins on July 1 or risk a government shutdown. However, Alaska is facing a deficit of nearly $3 billion and the House and Senate disagree with how to reduce the deficit.

The Department of Health and Social Services, along with many other departments, is facing budget cuts. The House allocated $2.5 billion for the DHSS’s total agency funding in its budget. But the Senate cut almost $34 million from the agency’s total funding in its budget, as shown in the table below.

There was a $62 million difference between the two budgets at the beginning of the special session.

Governor Walker summed up the situation nicely.

I thank members of the House and Senate for taking positive steps toward solving Alaska’s fiscal challenges. However, the work is not done.

We’ll be following the budget process as the special session continues, especially the impact to the DHSS, which is currently working on redesigning Medicaid through sixteen initiatives, including an RFP for coordinated care which is scheduled be awarded by the fall.