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Caucus Connection Issue #3 (March 15, 2013)

It was another busy week in the Alaska State Senate.  Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus all participated in numerous budget subcommittee meetings as we work to finish closing out departmental budgets for the State of Alaska.  We welcomed young engineering students and environmental advocates to the Capitol.  Watching our young people be active in the political process and listening to their concerns is one of the most gratifying aspects of public service.

The House of Representatives spent four hours vigorously debating the operating budget on March 14th.  With the potential for drastically reduced revenues from a major shift in oil tax policy in the Governor’s giveaway bill, decisions over state spending are amplified.  Our democratic legislative colleagues in the House fought hard to fund early education and protect critical programs for the elderly and disabled.  As the operating budget moves to the Senate, be assured members of the Senate Democratic Caucus will continue this fight – we do not support massive oil tax cuts being paid for by Alaska’s most vulnerable populations – children and elderly adults.

The Senate Finance Committee considered Senate Bill 21, the Governor’s oil tax giveaway.  Without even one audit on ACES tax receipts, or major credit provisions, the Governor and his Senate allies seem resolute to deliver massive tax breaks to the largest and most successful corporations in the world.  What Alaska will get from this – besides massive budget deficits – is still unclear.  While the policy debate will continue next week in the Senate, please click on our above “Links of the Week” to find independent analysis of the staggering fiscal impacts of SB 21.  Late Thursday Senate Bill 21 moved out of the Finance Committee and it appears poised for debate before the full Senate.  If you have not done so yet, please consider writing a letter to the editor and calling the Governor and your legislators to voice your concerns.  The time to act is now; this legislation will have major ramifications on the fiscal future of Alaska.

Quotes of the week

“When are they going to stop saying they want more?” – Senator Lyman Hoffman (D-Bethel) in a question posed to oil tax consultant Barry Pulliam, referencing oil companies requests for bigger  tax breaks while debating Senate Bill 21 in the Senate Finance Committee, March 14th.

“The State of Alaska and the United States are potentially at a huge loss without the ratification of the Law of the Sea.  Our rights, our sovereignty, and our resources are at risk.” – Senator Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage) speaking on the ratification of Law of the Sea, a treaty protecting United States sovereignty and resources in the Arctic, March 13th.

“I didn’t think it was possible to miss the Governor’s bill as introduced, but I do.  If oil prices rise we have dug ourselves an enormous fiscal hole with this bill.” – Senator Hollis French (D-Anchorage) commenting on the Senate Finance committee substitute for SB 21 at the Senate Democratic Caucus weekly press availability.

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