• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 49s

Reality Check w/ John Tracy: Lawmakers are finding common ground on budget deficit

By John Tracy 6:42 PM March 9, 2017

It’s often difficult to see progress, but it’s worth recognizing it when it happens.

Believe it or not, lawmakers in Juneau are beginning to find some common ground in their efforts to close Alaska’s $3 billion budget gap.

And that’s worth noting.

First and foremost, a restructuring of the Permanent Fund, and making it’s earnings available for state spending is once again a part of Gov. Bill Walker’s plan, and the Senate Majority’s plan, and for the first time, a cornerstone of the House Majority plan.

Each plan sets a slightly different percentage of the earnings that could be used for state spending, but the concepts are generally the same.

Each plan would reserve a portion of the earnings for Permanent Fund dividends. They would initially be in the $1,000 range, but each plan works to retain dividends and give them potential for growth.

Just using earnings in this way would close about two-thirds of the budget gap.

We’d still be about $1 billion in the red, but it would triple the number of years we could stretch our savings.

How we get the other billion in savings is still a dividing point in Juneau.

The House is proposing an income tax that would be offset by the Permanent Fund dividend for many Alaskans, and would raise more than $600 million a year, paid primarily by wealthy Alaskans.

The income tax is supported by the Alaska Federation of Natives, which represents many of Alaska’s lowest income residents.

It is opposed by Alaska’s richest resident, Bob Gillam. No surprise there.

The Senate hasn’t warmed to an income tax. It’s proposing deeper budget cuts than the governor or the House, cuts the House leadership says could send Alaska’s economy into an even steeper tailspin.

But lets not take our eyes off the larger prize. It looks very likely lawmakers will work together to close two-thirds of our gap this year, even if they cannot agree on how to close the last third.

And that, in a word, is progress.

John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees. 

Latest Stories

  • News

    AFD conducts water rescue training on Cook Inlet

    by KTVA Web Staff on Jun 25, 14:37

    The Anchorage Fire Department is warning people not to try and walk from the Anchorage shore across to Fire Island. Authorities say that too often, attempts turn deadly. Anchorage Fireman and their partners from Ted Stevens practiced water rescues Saturday afternoon. They were working with jet skis and a boat. AFD says in the summer, […]

  • News

    Columbus Day to be known as Indigenous Peoples day in Alaska

    by Liz Raines on Jun 25, 14:27

    From now on, Columbus Day in Alaska will be known as Indigenous Peoples day. Gov. Bill Walker signed House Bill 78 into law Saturday, in Utquiagvik, the town formerly known as Barrow. The signing took place at Nalukataq, the Inupiaq whaling festival. The setting was particularly symbolic for many there, where the American, Alaska and Inupiat […]

  • Anchorage’s Swayman, Evingson selected in NHL Draft

    by Dave Leval on Jun 25, 14:20

    Jeremy Swayman’s dad grew up a New York Rangers’ fan. Looks like he will have to root for another “Original Six” team. The Boston Bruins selected Jeremy in the fourth round of Saturday’s NHL Draft. The 18-year-old Anchorage native spent the last two seasons as a goalie with the Sioux Falls Stampede in the United […]

  • Sports

    Musher Travis Beals allowed to compete in 2018 Iditarod

    by KTVA Web Staff on Jun 25, 13:49

    Domestic violence is a big problem in Alaska, and this year, the issue made headlines when it became a focus of the last great race. A musher had to sit out of the Iditarod due to domestic violence charges against him. But now, musher Travis Beals could be back on the trail next March. Beals […]

  • News

    Brown bear mauls cyclist on JBER

    by KTVA Web Staff on Jun 25, 12:43

    The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says a pair of cyclists encountered a bear on JBER Saturday morning. Authorities say the pair came across a brown bear with cubs while cycling on a main gravel road near Clunie Lake. The cyclists used bear spray to fend off the sow, but one cyclist was “knocked […]

  • Statue stands in honor of Iditarod founder

    by Dave Leval on Jun 24, 22:21

    He already has a school named after him, now, there’s another way to honor the man known as the “father of the Iditarod.” It took Palmer artist Pat Garley took roughly 18 months to complete the “Joe Redington, Senior on the Trail” statue that sits outside Redington Junior-Senior High School. The part of Redington weighs […]

  • Rookie musher first to sign up for 2018 Iditarod

    by Dave Leval on Jun 24, 22:19

    Shaynee Traska has what she needs as she prepares for the biggest challenge of her athletic career. The Yukon Quest 300 veteran from Two Rivers wants to play with the big dogs. Traska is the first person to sign up for next year’s Iditarod. “Very surprised, being a big Iditarod sign up day, I thought […]

  • News

    Pride Fest celebrates 40 years in Anchorage

    by Heather Hintze on Jun 24, 18:04

    Hundreds of people turned out in downtown Anchorage for the 40th annual Pride Fest. Mo Haddock and Callene Monasmith set their lawn chairs up early to get a front for the parade. “It’s a lot of fun. We like to people watch anyway but today is very fulfilling. Very heartwarming to see so many people […]