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Friday, November 24, 2017
HomeAlaska NewsWhat pink slips? House Resources holding climate change hearing

What pink slips? House Resources holding climate change hearing

Rep. Andy Josephson and Rep. Geran Tarr co-chair the House Resources Committee and are holding a hearing on their bill to establish a climate change commission in the Office of the Governor.

NEED A SLUSH FUND? CREATE A COMMISSION

There may be a fiscal crisis in the State of Alaska, but that’s not stopping House Democrats from doing what Democrats like to do:  add new agencies and even more taxes to fund them.

Hawkins

Next Wednesday, the day before pink slips are sent to thousands of State of Alaska employees, the House Natural Resources Committee, led by Reps. Geran Tarr and Andy Josephson, will hold a hearing on one of their favorite projects: Creating a commission on climate change within the Office of the Governor.

The cost for such a commission would be paid for with a tax of 1 cent on every barrel of oil through the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.

That equates to $5,000 a day, or $1.825 million per year, at current production levels.

The Tarr-Josephson bill,  HB 173, establishing the Alaska Climate Change Response Commission, will be heard at 1 pm, May 31 in Room 124 of the Capitol. It will be teleconferenced.

By then, the Legislature will have blown through 14 days of a special session called by the governor to pass a budget and create a funding plan for that budget.

Neither of those tasks have been completed, and the Legislature has basically disassembled for the long Memorial Day weekend.

Both Tarr and Josephson have been assigned to the House Democrats’ side of the conference committee on HB 111, which seeks to change taxes and tax credits on barrels of oil. It’s a critical piece of legislation that has had versions pass both the House and Senate. Neither Tarr nor Josephson has agreed to meet in conference committee on that legislation until after Memorial Day.

Tarr and Josephson’s plan to use special session time on their commission bill drew swift rebuke from Sen. Cathy Giessel, who chairs the Senate Resources Committee.

“Alaska is in a recession. Our economy is hampered by our government’s unstable public finances. While multi-billion dollar questions await answers, the State House decided today was a good time to advance an environmentalist agenda.”

Her vice-chair, Sen. John Coghill of North Pole, echoed the sentiment.

MAJOR COMMISSION, MINOR EXPECTATIONS

The Climate Change Commission would be made up of 15 members, including five state commissioners and nine elected municipal officials from around the state. An executive director would be hired to advance the commission’s agenda, and the primary work product of the commission would be to seek grants, aid, and other financing to assist rural communities.

The commission would become part of the Governor’s Office. It would apply for grants for agencies and tribes.

“The federal government has spent about $38 billion on climate change, directly and through aid, since 2003. Globally, public and private entities spend about $392 billion per year on climate change financing. Alaska is missing out on these opportunities due to a lack of a dedicated office, an assistance program, or governmental spending on the upfront costs of securing climate change aid,” Tarr and Josephson said in their sponsor statement.

Beyond grant writing, the commission would monitor climate change, consult with experts, publish reports, coordinate with the University of Alaska, advance green technology, reach out to non-profits and rural communities, and seek out ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the public and private sectors, the sponsors say.

It will develop a program to distribute money from a climate change response fund that it will amass, according to Tarr and Josephson.

But the kicker is how the commission would be funded. A new tax on oil would be created. Called a surcharge, this one-cent tax would be added onto the tax already dedicated to the Spill Prevention and Response Fund, which has received $2 million per year over the past four years.

The Climate Change Response Fund will have a limit of $50 million after which the surcharge will not be collected, the sponsors say.

How that $50 million would be spent is not specified, but it appears to be a type of slush fund that the Governor’s Office would use to send people to conferences and travel around the state, with no deliverables required. The 15 commissioners would earn per diem and travel, but would not otherwise receive compensation.

The bill is supported by dozens of established environmental groups and new protest groups that have formed in response to the electoral losses of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Those groups include Indivisible Alaska, Alaskans Stronger Together, March on Fairbanks, Our Revolution Alaska, and Take Action Skagway.

The support documents for the bill include no information on what the carbon footprint of the commission itself would be, for its offices and well-funded airline travel budget, should it pass both House and Senate.

 

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Alaska’s Democrats doing what they do best; wasting time while Alaska marches toward its financial cliff, all the while pretending they’re doing what’s best for Alaska.

  • You can not use the term slush fund. If you do “Angry Gabby” will get you.

  • Good God, we are living in the Twilight Zone…

  • Climate change slush fund, gas line slush fund, income tax? I know that Alaska has a lot of slush at times but hopefully these slush funds will too melt away if the heat is put on.
    Alaska doesn’t have a deficit problem, its a spending crisis from a bunch of whacko democrats that love to spend others money. The climate change commission is just another no limits spending spree! I wonder if us Alaskans will be paying for an office in Huston, Tokyo or wherever to attempt to convince Alaskans that climate change is real, and its time for a gas line! YOU KIDDING!!!

  • There’s a long list of boards and commissions that do absolutely nothing other than provide sinecures for leftist activists, and that continues even in Republican administrations because it has been one Helluva long time since anybody paid any attention to what most of the boards and commissions do. Board members and any paid staff the boards and commissions might have are in the exempt service so there are no uniform rules about how members and staff are recruited or paid. Many of them are not paid but do offer the greatest benefit the State offers, Outside travel at State expense where people can hobnob and network. For those boards and commissions with a paid staff, some of the staff salaries are astounding compared to what the mere mortals working in the classified and partially exempt services get paid, and so long as the Executive Director or other paid head keeps the majority of even an unpaid board in the MVP Gold ranks, the paid staff can do what they please and get paid whatever they can talk the board into.

  • After living here for 48 years working with my head down assisting in making the infrastructure of this great state better for our citizens I was not focused on what has been going on in Juneau. Now as I stew over what I have learned about what the socialist, progressive democrats are doing to our Great State I have to THANK Suzanne Downing for your excellent reporting!

    EYES OPEN AND PISSED!

  • What next surcharges on oil to pay for pet projects? On top of taking the peoples money.

  • CLIMATE CHANGE!!! CLIMATE CHANGE!!! CLIMATE CHANGE!!! Maybe for some, suicide might just be a valuable option…