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House Majority rejects governor’s compromise

By Liz Raines 3:37 PM June 5, 2017

Governor Bill Walker is meeting with each caucus of the Alaska legislature individually Monday to roll-out his compromise fiscal plan, as Walker promised Friday; but, the House Majority caucus has already rejected the governor’s proposal.

“It’s not acceptable to the House majority,” House Majority Leader, Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) said in an interview Monday afternoon. “He’s negotiating against himself and negotiating against the best interest of Alaska.”

“We’re still pretty determined on getting our fiscal house in order, and so, I know people look at negotiations as always meeting in the middle, but, that’s not necessarily so,” Tuck said. “You want to set up a situation where it’s a win-win situation for everyone. And the House has done that and now we just need to convince the Senate on how they benefit as well from the package that we put together, and how Alaskans benefit from the package that we put together.”

The House Majority Coalition’s fiscal package includes a broad-based tax — which the Republican-lead Senate Majority has consistently opposed this year.

Tuck declined to discuss the specifics of Walker’s package, but, said the governor’s broad-based tax proposal was based on legislation already in play.

“I have given my word to allow the governor to work other caucuses prior to divulging anything that he’s proposed,” Tuck said.

Tuck did say, the House majority disagrees with the level of funding for paying off oil tax credit debt included in the governor’s compromise. Tuck added that the most important criteria for a fiscal package to be acceptable to the House majority include, ending the session with:

  • No more structured deficit spending
  • A meaningful capital budget for maintenance and state projects
  • A plan that doesn’t burden one group of Alaskans over another

“So, what we saw from the governor today doesn’t meet that criteria and we do want to have meaningful capital budgets, but, to do that, we’ve got to get our operating budget in order, to do that, we’ve got to do something with the oil and gas tax credits,” Tuck said. “ It capitulates too much, and we don’t want to capitulate on what Alaskans deserve for its future. So,we’re hanging strong, we’re sticking together, and we want a plan that gives certainty to Alaskans and Alaska businesses.”

In a press release late Monday afternoon, Governor Walker outlined the potential compromise discussed with lawmakers, which includes:

  • A modified version of the House’s oil tax legislation, House Bill 111
  • An education head tax, introduced by Senator Click Bishop, to raise money for public education facilities, Senate Bill 12
  • A motor fuels tax
  • Walker’s Permanent Fund Protection Act, as passed by the Senate
  • The House’s version of the state operating budget
  • A compromise version of the state capital budget, including payment of the state’s oil tax credit obligation

In the statement released late Monday, Walker said:

“I will be the first to admit that this package will not please everyone,” Governor Walker said. “In fact, there are pieces I don’t like; but, we must all give a little to ensure a viable plan is in place well before July 1. Otherwise, government services—like issuing fishing permits, continuing ferry runs and addressing consumer protection issues—will be shut down. Alaskans deserve to have their elected officials come together in true compromise. This session cannot be determined by whose caucus won, otherwise all Alaskans will lose. We must pull together to end the uncertainty that hangs over classrooms, families and our future.”

KTVA has also requested an interview with Senate leadership, but, has not received a response. KTVA has also requested reaction from the House and Senate minority.

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