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No Chicken Little, The Sky is Not Falling

It only seems to be


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© Alaska Division of Community and Business Development

May Day! May Day! I remember writing about that a few years ago when Alaska was in jeopardy of losing big oil investments due to disagreeable taxation. That was eventually resolved at great cost, and investments started up again. Then the bottom fell out of the price of oil, so now we’re faced with another problem: insufficient funds to carry on the way we were. We’re still waiting to find out what’s next in that realm from the Alaska Legislature.

The print deadline for the May issue is a few days before the end of session, so I can’t comment on how it all ends because as I write this our elected leaders are still in Juneau legislating.

A few things could have dramatic consequences. There is a very real risk that 42,000 working adults will not have access to healthcare; 128,000 K-12 students will not be adequately funded in their public schools; thousands of miles of roads, rail, and runways will not be repaired or maintained; and 800 miles of natural gas pipeline will not get built—ever.

As of April 14 it’s not looking too good for Medicaid expansion, public school funding, transportation spending, or pipeline consensus between the first session of the 29th Legislature and the governor.

April 14 stats in the table below are from the Legislature’s website. It will be interesting to compare with the session’s final stats. So far nothing had been signed, little had been passed, and a veto was threatened.

 

 

It all depends on some unknowns: failure or success in the passage of bills, whether the governor’s veto powers are exercised or overridden, and general action or inaction by legislators on the budget and bringing introduced bills to a vote. I get the impression from lawmakers, and from the governor, that they are worried that if certain bills pass or don’t pass, or pass and get vetoed, or get vetoed and overridden, then hundreds of millions of dollars are at risk of evaporating into thin air. It doesn’t appear that any have accepted the fact that billions of dollars already have.

Of course we’ll all know the outcome of the session before this May issue of Alaska Business Monthly is published and you’re reading it—among the various ways—the print edition or the digital edition on your computer or laptop or via the mobile app on your tablet, reader, or phone. And the mystery will already be solved because you will have been kept up to date on our website with everything and anything done by the Legislature and governor. Politics aside, the team has put together another really great magazine, enjoy!

This article originally appeared in the May 2015 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly.

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