Legislative Session Kicks Off
Governor's State of the State address Wednesday night
One day down, 89 to go. The Alaska legislature is back in session for election year deliberations.
CBS 11’s Bill McAllister is at the Capitol, where he had an exclusive interview with Governor Sean Parnell this afternoon.
As usual, nothing substantive was accomplished on this first day. It’s a time for setting the tone for what’s to come. But lawmakers will be making multiple billion-dollar decisions by April.
There was a generally light tone as lawmakers returned to Juneau and officially gaveled in the session. Although struggles lie ahead, this is a time of hope and optimism.
Governor Parnell will deliver his annual State of the State address Wednesday night, and the issues he will cover include his proposed cut in oil production taxes.
One issue might have been added to the legislative plate today.
Sponsors of a citizens’ initiative to revive the coastal zone management program turned in petition books of signatures in an attempt to place the issue on the statewide election ballot this year. The legislature could preempt that vote by passing substantially similar legislation.
Alaska’s fiscal situation is better than almost all other states, and so the question again this year is as much about where to save money as it is what to spend it on.
One idea being floated would direct some of the surplus revenue toward unfunded liabilities in the public pension funds.
Some of the savings plans would put money into the principal of the Permanent Fund, where it would be untouchable except by constitutional amendment.
House Speaker Mike Chenault says he’d like to have the surplus funds somewhere more accessible, in case of a sharp drop in the price of oil.