JUNEAU — Alaska lawmakers are taking a closer look at their own spending this year as they eye deeper cuts to state agencies and appear likely to ask residents to give up part of their Permanent Fund dividends.
The House has already slashed its spending on employee salaries during the annual legislative session, while leaders from that chamber and the Senate broke with tradition Thursday by holding the Legislature's budget in its first committee for more than a single, perfunctory hearing.
The moves come as lawmakers have faced persistent questions about their own spending on travel and salaries, even as some legislators have called for steeper reductions to Gov. Bill Walker's executive branch agencies amid the state's budget crisis.
Some of the state's union workers don't feel that lawmakers have taken the same deficit-reduction for the legislative branch that they've asked of other employees, said Jim Duncan, the executive director of the Alaska State Employees Association, the state's largest public-sector union.