Morning Headlamp — Lawmakers return to work, again

Fifth time’s the charm. State legislators are poised to meet today for their fifth special session in two years, with Gov. Bill Walker saying they need to finish the work of addressing Alaska’s gaping budget deficit. Walker’s agenda could face an uphill battle, given that proposals he’s asking lawmakers to consider have gained little traction. “I don’t think it’s going to be very productive at all,” said House Minority Leader Chris Tuck. Minority Democrats want to see changes to state oil tax policy and do not want the permanent fund bill, which would change how dividends are calculated, to be the first or only option. There’s been little interest in the House or Senate on a proposed personal income tax or various industry tax increases, and Republican legislative leaders have balked at a new fight over oil taxes.

The Juneau Empire published an editorial indicating skepticism surrounding Gov. Bill Walker’s inclination to take sole responsibility for the AKLNG megaproject. According to the Empire, “The Alaska Legislature has already proved itself incompetent at balancing the state’s regular budget. Through an unchecked system of oil and gas tax credits and a refusal to raise new revenue, lawmakers have become deficit accomplices. When Alaska received a windfall from the 2008 surge in oil prices, it should have kept the brakes on the natural inflation of government. It did not. Oil prices have plunged, and we are feeling the consequences.”

 

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First Reads

Alaska Legislature to hold fifth special session in 2 years
Associated Press, Becky Bohrer, July 11, 2016

Alaska shouldn’t even be a partner in a North Slope gas line, let alone take control
Alaska Dispatch News, Paul Jenkins, July 11, 2016

Empire Editorial: Will Big Oil pass gas to Alaska?
Juneau Empire, July 11, 2016