Senate Stands Ready to Finalize Fiscal Compromise
JUNEAU – The Alaska State Senate delivered a responsible operating budget and a sustainable fiscal solution while protecting working Alaskans from an income tax, all key priorities in a year with serious fiscal challenges. But without a compromise with the House at the 121-day constitutional session limit, the Senate must adjourn. Members are committed to working diligently in a special session to address these critical fiscal issues facing Alaska.
“We are required to deliver an operating budget and Alaskans deserve a fiscal solution – the Senate has delivered on both counts,” said Senate President Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks. “The House has insisted on demands that are not in the best interest of Alaska. We’ll stay as long as necessary to secure the right solution for Alaskans, and encourage the Governor to call a special session to narrow the focus to solving the fiscal problem.”
The Senate executed promptly this session, delivering a fiscal solution in mid-March and a responsible operating budget in early April. Senate committees cleared the deck of individual priorities by day 90, focusing on key fiscal issues. The House delayed appointment of conference committees to resolve the differences among the two bodies, focusing instead on non-priority and personal legislation.
“The primary objective of our Senate Majority, clearly stated prior to session, was to construct a fiscal solution without political complications associated with issues of individual interest,” said Majority Leader Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna. “Both sides must set aside ultimatums and find an acceptable compromise that best serves Alaskans. I’m confident we will reach an accord in time to ensure quality, constitutionally-required services continue, without interruption.”
The Senate’s fiscal solution calls for a spending cap to limit future government growth, uses Permanent Fund earnings to help pay for government and a dividend and makes about $200 million in operating budget reductions. The Senate protected working Alaskans from an income tax proposed by the House Democrats. And, the Senate concurred with the House and Governor in eliminating cash payments for tax credits to the oil industry, a move that will save the state up to $200 million per year.