Morning Headlamp – Will raising oil taxes fix the problem with Alaska’s finances?

Special Session Part 2. Unresolved as of Friday, the state’s budget gap lingers as Governor Walker called legislators back for a second special session. The Republican-led state Senate gaveled out Friday morning, rejecting a plan from the House which would have taken $5 billion dollars out of the earnings reserve account of the Permanent Fund. Four minutes after the Senate’s adjournment, Walker signed his proclamation convening the next special session, which began at 1 p.m. Walker, at a hastily called news conference in his third-floor Capitol office, said he remains committed to getting new revenue bills — like taxes — through the Legislature, adding that the state’s huge deficit will ultimately force their adoption. But he cited lobbying from “businesses, and business people” that convinced him that averting a shutdown should now be the Legislature’s sole focus.

How did we get here? With the Alaska Legislature unable to pass an appropriations bill and budget five months after it started work this year, a state government shutdown is looming on July 1. Their second special session began Friday. The operating budget is the only thing that the Legislature absolutely has to do and it is the only topic for this special session so far. If lawmakers don’t pass a budget by July 1, all but the most essential state government services will shut down.

Headlamp would note this line from the article “the goal is to fix the structural problem with Alaska’s finances caused by the crash in oil prices and long-term decline in production on the North Slope.”

If this is the “goal,” shouldn’t the House Majority explain whether hiking oil taxes will accomplish it?  Not to mention the impact a tax increase would have in the middle of a massive multiyear layoff? Just sayin’…

First Reads

What’s the holdup? The Alaska Legislature’s budget standoff, explained

Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, June 17, 2017

Walker calls 2nd special session to avert a state government shutdown, puts fiscal measures aside

Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, June 17, 2017