Senate to begin hearing Dunleavy constitutional amendments
Hearings on Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed constitutional amendments will begin Thursday, when a state Senate panel looks at his plan for enshrining a spending limit.
Senate State Affairs Committee Chair Sen. Mike Shower, R-Palmer, said the first hearing will be on Senate Joint Resolution 6. He plans to hear the other two bills — SJRs 4 and 5 — by month’s end.
SJR 4 says that taxes passed by the Legislature and governor will still require voter approval in an upcoming election. SJR 5 commits the state to using a statutory formula to determine the Permanent Fund dividend, rather than lawmakers or a governor agreeing on an amount less than the formula.
“All of these are very important topics and we do have time to work through it,” Shower said. “But I think it’s important in the session right now to at least get them into the discussion and put the tools on the finance table, since we’re sitting here in Finance to have that broader debate, all the pieces in the puzzle together.”
Dunleavy has said these proposals underpin his long-term fiscal plan by taking taxing, Permanent Fund payout and some spending decisions out of politicians' hands and placing them before voters.
He first introduced the ideas two months ago.
“In order for us to get a permanent fiscal plan — a durable fiscal plan — we want to involve the people on the front end of the creation of that plan,” he said in a press conference at the end of January.
Dunleavy pointed out that Alaskans can tax themselves, and repeal taxes, through the initiative process.
“Instead of waiting for them on the back end to decide if they like what we're doing, my position is let’s engage them on the front end. Let’s get the people of Alaska involved straight up,” he said.
Thursday’s hearing in the State Affairs Committee will also feature public testimony. Shower said he may have what seems like an ambitious goal for the three bills, but he won’t rush.
“A bill or constitutional change is going to affect people’s lives,” Shower said. “It’s going to affect the state. It could affect the economy, what’s in and out of people’s wallets. So I don’t really approach it any differently, except understanding that there are some other implications that are different.”
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.