GOV, YOU’VE BEEN DEMBOSKIED – Gov. Bill Walker attended the Anchorage Assembly meeting on Tuesday and spoke to the municipal body for a several minutes, making his case for an income tax before taking questions from the Assembly.
“You can’t run from it. It’s not going to go away,” he said. “It’s time we have to look at the other side of the equation. We have to look on the revenue side. We can’t fix the budget by cuts alone. We just can’t do it.”
“We need a compromise. I need to compromise. Not everyone’s going to get everything they want when they want it,” Walker said.
Assembly Member Amy Demboski took the governor to task on his income tax proposal: “Some will tell you that in fact we have a revenue problem. That’s what I hear you say. I hear others say we have a spending problem. Governor Walker, I think we have a leadership problem.”
She continued: “Alaskans are really tired of hearing we cut 44 percent when you and I both know it’s a numbers game.”
Assembly members were given three minutes to address the governor. Listen to what Demboski does with her three minutes:
Walker said he wouldn’t address her comments then, but would be glad to meet with her to discuss her points of view and invited her to discuss her concerns with his Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
SENATE PAYS TAX CREDITS – The Alaska Senate voted Thursday to make good on promises to oil and gas explorers who are owed tax credits. Those payments are, in some cases, overdue by nearly two years.
By a vote of 13-7, the Senate decided to use $288 million from a state savings account to pay the credits.
Several explorers have been waiting for their tax credits since Gov. Walker took office in 2014. He began canceling payments in 2015.
Earlier this week in Juneau, Revenue Commissioner Randy Hoffbeck said some oil and gas companies are on the verge of foreclosure. Hoffbeck, along with Rep. Justin Parish, was talking to a group of Juneau residents at a town hall:
“We know we’re going to lose a couple of companies through foreclosure. We’ve been hearing from their banks … if we cannot pay the oil tax credits. We need a broad-based tax to pay those credits. If we lost those companies, we will probably lose that oil production [forever].”
Hoffbeck went on to say that without a broad-based tax, two companies will go into foreclosure.
But on the floor of the Senate on Thursday, Sen. Bill Wielechowski, an Anchorage Democrat, railed against paying the tax credits: “In what world is that OK? Explain to the people of Alaska. I hope they’re watching. I hope the people of Alaska are watching this vote right now…Do you stand for the people of Alaska?”
The tax credit vote was part of the $1.4 billion capital budget, which passed 13-5.