- Associated Press - Monday, March 14, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The Latest on the work being done on the Alaska state budget (all times local):

3:35 p.m.

The Alaska Senate has passed its version of the state operating budget, setting the stage for negotiations that will need to take place before a spending plan is finalized.

Monday’s 16-4 vote came just days after the House passed its version of the budget.

Senate Finance Committee co-chair Pete Kelly says he is confident of the recommendations that went into the Senate rewrite.

The Senate sped up its budget schedule this year to allow time for consideration of bills that could bring in new or additional revenues.

Legislators also are working on bills intended to reduce costs within Medicaid, the criminal justice system and the state’s oil and gas tax credit program.

The state is grappling with a multibillion-dollar deficit amid low oil prices.

___

2 p.m.

Gov. Bill Walker says the state needs to have a plan in place this year to address Alaska’s fiscal situation.

The state faces a multibillion-dollar deficit amid chronically low oil prices. Alaska has relied heavily on oil revenues to fund state government.

Legislative leaders in the House and Senate chose to focus attention on finishing their respective versions of the state operating budget before deciding on any measures to raise new or additional revenues.

The House passed its version of the operating budget early Friday. The Senate was debating its own rewrite on Monday. Differences between the two ultimately will be sorted out in a conference committee comprised of House and Senate negotiators.


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