Unprecedented. Historic. Tough. Somber. Scary — Those are some of the words Alaska lawmakers have used to describe the job ahead for 2016 Legislature.
With back-to-back multi-billion-dollar deficits, lawmakers not only have some difficult choices ahead but are also pushing into unchartered fiscal territory.
Finance experts say they cannot balance the budget with cuts alone and will need new sources of cash to bridge the fiscal gap.
In this week’s program, we take you to Juneau for the start of the 2016 legislative session and visit with legislative leaders as they prepare for another round of political poker, in which the stakes are higher than ever before. Whatever lawmakers do, Alaskans will likely feel the impact in their pocketbooks.
We’ll look at some of the cards on the table, which include a Senate Majority plan to slash $800 million from the budget. Lawmakers also have proposals from the governor to weigh — such as tapping Permanent Fund earnings, re-instituting an income tax and increasing taxes in a number of areas.
The Bradner brothers are our guests this week — Mike and Tim — who publish the Alaska Legislative Digest, a journal popular with political insiders. Mike Bradner also brings a unique perspective. He served as House Speaker and helped to craft legislation, which created the Permanent Fund in 1975.