SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Alaska Lawmakers In Overtime & Still No Budget Resolution



April 19, 2017
Wednesday PM

(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska - Today was Day 93 of the legislative session putting the Alaska's lawmakers in overtime and there is still much left to be done. On April 15th, the Alaska House of Representatives narrowly passed a budget bill, HB 115, referring it to the Senate for consideration. That was the 89th day of a 90 day session.

In the meantime, as the Alaska Legislature has moved past the statutory 90-day session and they are still discussing a fiscal plan. The Alaska Senate’s intent is to shut down most committees and only work on essential items: the budget, fiscal plan and priority bills that must be passed this year.

jgp Alaska Lawmakers In Overtime & Still No Budget Resolution

Governor Bill Walker speaking during a press conference Tuesday AM. To listen to the full conference click on this link
Snap-shot from conference video - Office of the Governor

“I want to make this perfectly clear.  If the Senate thinks we’re going to get out of here with just a POMV, they’ve got another think coming.” This is a quote from House Rules Chair Gabrielle LeDoux at Tuesday morning’s press availability. 

There are two budget proposals from the Alaska House and Senate that the two chambers have not yet settled, and there is no sign of a deal on the state's budget.

The House Majority's pieces of the fiscal plan reduces spending by $82 million, includes a structured use of the earnings of the Alaska Permanent Fund, and an oil tax credit and subsidy reform, and a school tax. Their plan a state income tax.

The Senate Majority also supports the use of the Permanent Fund in a limited way and rejects an income tax. There are mixed opinions in the Senate about cuts to drilling subsidies. The Senate Majority would cut the budget in future years to make up the difference in the budget plans, but has yet not identified what would be cut.

The Alaska House is keeping all committees open and continuing their work as usual. Currently, it is unknown when the session will end or what the final package will look like but the House Majority Coalition and the Governor are adamant that the fiscal plan be comprehensive with a broad-based tax. 

In a press conference held Tuesday morning, Governor Bill Walker reaffirmed his desire that the lawmakers should solve the state's $2.8 billion deficit this session. Walker said he supports a comprehensive plan to balance the budget.

Governor Walker introduced his FY 2018 budget in December, and stressed the need to establish a complete fiscal plan through continued cuts, restructure of the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve, and the establishment of a broad-based tax. Quoting a news release from the Governor, this bill would fulfill the need for a broad-based tax, and provide a steady source of funding for essential services like public education and state troopers.

Walker said he has invited Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham) and Senate President Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) to the governor's mansion for discussions.




House Votes to Impose Income Tax on Alaskans

House Passes "School Tax" to Fund Education (HB 115)

Long-Term Fiscal Plan Offered With No Income Tax and No PDF Cap -
SitNews - March 22, 2017



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