Morning Headlamp – House Majority tries to hide their behavior. KABATA is dead?

How low can we go? Job loss and a veto of the Permanent Fund Dividend led to the first drop in personal income in 10 years. Alaska still ranks 8th in its national standing for per capita income. If the House Majority has their way, that ranking won’t last for long. HB 115, their income tax legislation which seems to have the support of the Governor, plans to tax everything that moves or works. 

House Majority blames others for their bad behavior. With 12 days remaining until the Alaska Legislature’s 121-day constitutional limit, the House Majority is attempting, once again, to blame oil and gas tax credits for all of our budget woes. The House’s deficit plan includes spending from the Alaska Permanent Fund’s investments, capping the PFD, INCREASING THE BUDGET,  and an “income tax” bill that includes many other taxes on Alaskans.   The Senate has proposed its own deficit-fighting plan. The Senate Majority’s proposal includes spending from the Alaska Permanent Fund’s investments, capping the PFD and steeper cuts to the budget. The Senate Majority has eliminated all of the oil and gas tax credits – going further than the House did. Headlamp is disappointed in the House Majority’s attempts to mislead the public into believing they have made budget reductions and that the oil and gas tax credit debate still exists. The Governor, the Senate and the House all declared their intent to eliminate the oil and gas tax credits. That goal has been achieved – but the House’s inability to cut one penny from the budget and their desire to get more revenue to support their spending habits forces them to look for someone else to blame for their mistakes. 

A bridge to nowhere. The Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority is closing down after more than 10 years of work and millions of dollars in state money spent. Grace Jang, a spokesperson for Governor Walker claims it will free up about $40 million in earmarked federal funds to be used for other projects. The money isn’t in the bank. The funds must be reallocated to transportation project that benefit Mat-Su residents commuting to and from Anchorage.

Omnibus Appropriations Bill includes Alaska priorities. The U.S. Senate passed an omnibus appropriations bill May 4 in a vote of 79-18 that funds major Alaska programs for the remainder of fiscal year 2017 including the Essential Air Service, the Denali Commission and energy assistance grants. Because Alaska is in the midst of a fiscal crisis, Sen. Lisa Murkowski believes the fiscal year 2017 budget infusion will provide a much-needed boost to the economy. “The bill provides new investments for our military, increased funding for fighting wildfires, and it will help Alaskans who grapple with some of the highest heating costs in the nation,” Murkowski said. “This bill empowers Alaskans to strengthen our economy and create safe and healthy communities at a time when we need it most.” Included in the bill is $10.6 million of funding for the Port of Anchorage and nine other Alaska harbors, including $2.4 million for evaluation of a deep draft port at Nome.

No crude leak; corrective order withdrawn. Only three gallons of liquid escaped from one of Hilcorp’s platforms into Cook Inlet in early April. A liquid called natural gas condensate had formed in the line. The federal Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has withdrawn a corrective order they issued to Hilcorp after the incident.

 

First Reads

Oil issues stall Legislature

Alaska Journal of Commerce, James Brooks, May 8, 2017

Murkowski: Spending bill funds ‘Alaska priorities’

Alaska Journal of Commerce, James Brooks, May 8, 2017

Only 3 gallons spilled from Hilcorp platform in April…and it wasn’t crude
Alaska Public Media, Elizabeth Harball, May 8, 2017

Personal income in Alaska drops after decade of solid growth
Alaska Dispatch News, Alex DeMarban, May 8, 2017

Walker puts final kibosh on KABATA project
KTVA, Liz Raines, May 8, 2017

Jones Act tanker used to transport oil from Alaska’s North Slope to retire: operator
Reuters, Liz Hampton, May 8, 2017