By ELWOOD BREHMER
ALASKA JOURNAL OF COMMERCE
It might be the peak of summer, but it feels a lot more like Groundhog Day in Alaska politics.
Gov. Bill Walker held a press briefing at noon Monday at which he again urged legislators to pass the bills needed to cure the state of its massive annual deficits. The budget deficit was about $2.5 billion for the 2017 fiscal year that ended June 30.
“I know I’ve been critical of the Legislature as a whole; it’s about getting the job done,” Walker said Monday at the state Atwood Building in Anchorage.
One day short of a year earlier, the Legislature convened for a special session called by Walker to make cuts to the state’s North Slope oil and gas tax credit program, approve spending investment earnings from the Permanent Fund on government services and other revenue measures in the governor’s fiscal plan.
“I am absolutely convinced that if we don’t fix this now, then our challenges next year will be even more magnified,” the governor said during a June 19, 2016, news conference shortly after the House Finance Committee shot down his Permanent Fund restructuring bill.
As he spoke Monday — somewhat through reporters to legislators — lawmakers were again hung up on North Slope oil and gas tax credit legislation in a summer special session.
This year, the debate is not as much over ending the credits as both the Democrat House Majority and the Republican Senate Majority agree the shelf life on the refundable tax credit experiment has expired. The sticking point now is whether to raise oil taxes as well.