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Tuesday, April 24, 2018
HomePolitics and PolicySB 128 likely to sink in House

SB 128 likely to sink in House

Governor Walker can't paddle fast enough to get away from the mess he created with the budget.

Governor Walker can’t paddle fast enough to get away from the mess he created with the budget.

GOVERNOR WALKER CAN PADDLE, BUT CAN HE CUT?

The sticking point: Democrats and the Governor-They-Created have been unwilling to cut the budget this year. Republicans are getting the blame. Same as last year.

This forced a decision for Republicans..same as last year: Either allow the governor to shut down government, or pass a spending plan that is clearly too big to support without additional revenues.

Hawkins

Those additional revenues this year could come in part from SB 128, creating an endowment fund out of the Permanent Fund and all the other pots of money the state has sitting in accounts hither and thither; accounts that are not being invested for their highest yield. Managing it all as an endowment would spin off more revenues for State workers, but fewer dividends for the rest of us.

SB 128, while controversial because it lops $1,000 off of the 2017 Permanent Fund dividend of every citizen, passed the Senate — and will end up as road kill in the House.

It was the only solution the Senate could see working, since Democrats continue year after year to hold the budget hostage due to the two-thirds three-quarters majority needed to tap into a reserve fund that would be used, once again, to pay for the part that oil revenues can’t cover.

And SB 128 is a reasonable solution, we argued last week, considering the choices.

But when it hits the House floor for a vote, representatives will probably say, “Hell, no.” And they’re also justified.

No worries. Governor Walker can, if he is serious, cut the out-of-control spending all by himself. He needs no further authority, as he alone has the veto pen. If this former Republican does make substantial cuts, the House might be inclined to help him out with a longer-term funding mechanism.

And if the governor is really serious, he could simply run a red line through the funding of next year’s Permanent Fund payout. Cut it in half yourself, Bill Walker: That would send a message.

Yes, the governor can actually do that. He grabbed the authority to expand Medicaid, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars, so why doesn’t he just use his red pen on the Permanent Fund payout?

He won’t, because he’s playing games to try to dislodge the Bipartisan Majority and run the tables with his Democrats.

NO FISCAL PLAN

The budget is done, but is unsigned. Walker should have sent pink slips out two weeks ago when the calendar turned to June.

This year, unlike last year, the Democrats and state employee union leaders like Vince Beltrami are not in histrionics about the pink slips or the ticking clock. They are quiet as a mouse because they have the playbook from the governor. They understand the field — run the plays just like last year.

This scenario is a repeat of 2015, when Walker not only refused to cut, he used his leverage as governor to help Democrats force tens of millions back into the budget, and he brokered a deal to secure automatic step pay increases for state employees.
This year Walker proposed a budget increase while also fighting for merit pay increases for state employees.  He has been Big Government’s best friend, refusing to honor his campaign promise to cut government spending. In fact, he has done the opposite.
Oversized government like Alaska’s has an insatiable appetite for more money and more taxes. That’s where we’re at, and that’s why the Legislature is being forced to deal with his list of demands in special session.

GOVERNOR, SHOW US THE 16 PERCENT

Our prediction is that the House will not pass the restructuring of the Permanent Fund until the governor honors his promise to cut 16 percent of the budget.
We can’t blame them for holding firm, just as we understand that, from the Senate’s perspective, SB 128 was a workable compromise.
How they view the governor’s mess is the difference between the House and Senate; the two-year election cycle is built into the House for exactly a time such as this.
So get out your red pen, Governor Walker. Or else get out your black pen and sign the pink slips.
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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 comment

  • They have a real dilemma on July 1 if there isn’t a budget; they have no money to pay employees, pay for anything really, and they haven’t given the required layoff notice. The cynical and suspicious part of me, that’s most of me, thinks they’ve done this on purpose. They’ll let July 1 come with no budget and lay off everyone they dare and shut down as much of the government as they dare. Cheryl Frasca says there is an AG’s Opinion that says you can spend without an appropriation if there is a reasonable expectation that you’ll have an appropriation, but who knows, AG’s Opinions are just opinions, they’re sometimes hard to find in musty old files, and maybe you just don’t want to remember that AG’s Opinion.

    Anyway, it sets them up to shut the government down as dramatically as they dare, scare Hell out of State employees and their families, and then when the Leg folds and gives them a budget to stop the screaming, they can use an arbitrator’s opinion saying the State violated the layoff notice requirement and order the State to pay all the laid off employees for the time they missed. It’s good to own a governor!