Breaking Records, and Not The Good Kind
Dear Friends, Neighbors, and fellow Fairbanksans:
I'm writing to you on the second day of the fifth special session. We're breaking records now…and not the good kind. This is the first time in Alaska's history that there's been five special sessions in a legislative term. Governor Walker called this special session to consider many of the proposals that didn't pass during the last special session, including a bill seeking to withdraw money from the Permanent Fund earnings reserve to fund the state budget, bills that would implement an income tax, sales tax, and increases in the motor fuel, mining, fisheries, alcohol, and tobacco taxes, and reconsideration of parts of our oil and gas tax credit system.
You may have heard that Governor Walker recently vetoed several items from the budget, including capping the PFD down to $1,000 this year. He also vetoed $430 million in oil and gas credits, $10 million from the University, $58 million from K-12 education, paused several road projects, along with several other items. I'm not happy about the reductions to the University and K-12 schools, since much of that funding was added back in after lengthy negotiations. Those cuts were shortsighted and extend the state's savings by approximately one day.
I've said many times that I support a comprehensive plan to get Alaska out of our fiscal crisis. It's still my hope that we can make some progress on that front this year. Although I'm not happy with everything that the governor vetoed, or with all of our options for new revenues, for me it's more important that we implement something that gets us on the right track to a sustainable future rather than delay action for another year. I'll be seriously considering everything before us during this special session. I won't decide not to act just because some of my priorities weren't fully recognized. It's my view that legislators need to work together and truly compromise to make true progress.
Please let me know if you have questions or concerns.