Governor Walker’s birthday wish is to have a fiscal plan: ‘We’re not quite there’
Gov. Bill Walker turns 65 on Saturday, the 89th day of the 90-day session, and he has a birthday wish for lawmakers.
“I hope a lot of the bills they’ve been working on are passed,” he said. “I hope that names I’ve put up for confirmation for boards and commissions and commissioners have been approved. So that’s what I’m looking forward to, one of the things for my birthday,” Walker said in an interview Wednesday.
The House and Senate on Tuesday unveiled their own version of the governor’s plan to use Permanent Fund earnings as an endowment for government, but he is not sold on it yet.
“I think the critical part for us is that we take the volatility of oil out of the funding of government, and that’s one of the reasons, what we liked particularly about ours is that it does take the volatility out,” Walker said. “Now there’s some movement, and there’s some things being done to it that gets close to that, so I like the direction we’re going, but we’re not quite there.”
Walker said he realizes it’s going to take more time to get the pieces of his fiscal plan, which is struggling to win support in the legislative session’s final days. He’s waiting to see what happens.
“We’ll wait for the agenda for the special session to find out what doesn’t get done in the regular session,” he said.
When asked whether he’d honor a resolution passed by the Senate to hold a special session on the road system, Walker replied, “We’ll make that decision when we see what’s left on the table as far as what needs to be done at this point, you know. I like the idea of the Legislature remaining focused on the work.”
Lawmakers say it takes going office-to-office to get the votes to pass a bill. Many use what’s known as a “chit sheet,” a list with a yes or no box for lawmakers to initial next to their name. At a press conference last month, House Speaker Mike Chenault suggested the governor get one for his bills and ask lawmakers for their votes.
“The governor could go out and maybe get a chit sheet on every one of his bills and see if he can get 21 people in the house to support that,” he said.
When asked what he’s done to earn votes for his plan, Walker responded, “We provide all the answers to all the questions necessary so everybody can point fingers wherever they want to point. We have provided the necessary support, of course we have.”
Governor Walker and minority members have been calling for stricter oil tax reform than the majority has put forward. House Minority Leader Chris Tuck told reporters Wednesday morning until that happens, his members won’t be willing to give their votes to draw from savings for funding the budget.
“Things aren’t looking good as far as working together, sharing the responsibility, sharing the burden,” the Anchorage Democrat said. “I think that what they’re going to require of us in the end is too much of an ask in going into that savings account.”
The House debated amendments on the oil tax credit bill until nearly 2 a.m. Tuesday. Governor Walker says he caught most of the debate before heading to bed just before midnight.
“You know, I try to go to bed on the same day I get up so I just decided I wasn’t going to go past midnight,” Walker said. “I’m encouraged in some respects, I mean I hate to, you know, absolutely until it’s done, it’s not done. And so I know it’s not done, they’re going back on the floor today, and so we’ll see what happens today on the amendments and what not.”
The House planned to take up the measure again Wednesday evening. Lawmakers may pass some version of the governor’s oil tax reform and Permanent Fund plans. While they won’t likely be the versions he wants, they will be ones that have enough votes.
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