Senate Advances Pension Reform:
On Friday, Senate Labor and Commerce advanced SB 88, the pension reform bill that is one of the Senate’s and our House Coalition’s top two priorities. SB 88 has already been scheduled for consideration in Senate Finance for this week. Huge thanks to SB 88 bill sponsor Senator Cathy Giessel for her work on this issue. We will be hard-pressed to have a functioning state government or public education system if we don’t improve public employee pensions.
HB 99: Thanks to Community and Regional Affairs Co-Chair CJ McCormick and committee members Justin Ruffridge, Rebecca Himshoot, and Donna Mears for voting to pass HB 99 (non-discrimination legislation) from committee. The bill is now in Judiciary, where Chair Sarah Vance has said she will not hear the bill, which is not acceptable.
HB 105: The administration’s school discrimination bill was re-written via Committee Substitute in an attempt to make it less odious; the issue now is that the bill represents a very costly and probably unworkable mandate on schools, with requirements ranging from new construction of bathrooms to impossible-to-implement parental permission slip policies. My take on this is that Rep. Ruffridge made a valiant effort to find a way to fix the bill, but the underlying bill was so problematic that fixing it probably just isn’t possible.
A “Complete Fiscal Plan”?
Last week the Governor invited legislators to a press conference on a fiscal plan, and said he is open to all options that stabilize the state’s finances. I hope his stated flexibility on the size of the PFD reduces the likelihood of budget gridlock, and I agree that we should have votes on revenue measures on the House floor. Raising $100 million or so by modernizing our internet corporate tax statutes and closing the S Corp loophole would help ensure a more stable budget. I think it is unlikely that broad-based revenue measures pass, but we should have an opportunity to vote. I’ll keep advocating that we bring bills to the floor that would improve Alaska’s fiscal stability, because we should approach fiscal stability consistent with the aphorism, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
See you around the neighborhood,