It’s been a chunk of time since the last newsletter. My, my, what has since transpired.
All of us, the entire State of Alaska, are peering into an inky black fiscal abyss. Earlier today, Governor Walker vetoed a bunch of budget line items, scolding the legislature for a job undone.
And we’re back! My staff has to savagely beat me with a wet noodle to properly motivate me to peck out these newsletters. We sure have something to write about this time: fish! Alaska’s favorite political bloodsport. (We’ll get back to regularly scheduled legislative programming soon.)
We have a new legislature, a new governor, and a radically new $47.28 price for Alaska North Slope crude oil. We have a $3.5 billion budget deficit; we have a $55 billion LNG project (give or take $10 billion), one of the world’s largest, subject to the whims of rapidly changing global natural gas markets; and we have a proposal on the table to expand Medicaid for 40,000 Alaskans without health insurance.
Election season: it comes and it goes. Every two years, like a rising tide, campaign fervor floods Alaska. It’s utter, complete, neuron-invading inundation: advertisements; pollsters; earnest volunteers rapping on your door. Not even the Internet sanctum of YouTube and Pandora were safe. The audacity! (Pun definitely intended.)
In politics, education is an issue all its own. It’s not Democrats vs. Republicans, dogs vs. cats, Sharks vs. Jets, pro-life vs. pro-choice, pro-“More Alaska Production Act” vs. anti-“Oil Tax Giveaway.”
Like a good story, most legislative sessions have a narrative. Last session’s narrative was simple and wholesome: the passage of a multi-billion dollar tax cut for oil companies. And by golly, we got the job done with SB 21, which passed the Senate 11-9, and fulfilled its unfortunate destiny by a vote of 27-12 on the floor of the House of Representatives at 2:07 a.m. in the wee hours of April 14, 2013. (I was among the dozen dissenters.)