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Saturday, September 23, 2017
HomeAlaska NewsWalker doubles down on income tax, but won’t offer it himself

Walker doubles down on income tax, but won’t offer it himself

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker not only called the Legislature immediately into a special session last night, he insisted that lawmakers consider an income tax, even though the Republican-led Alaska Senate is firmly opposed to one and seems unlikely to budge.

Walker specified his first seven items for special session, but when it came to the eighth — the tax — he merely stated he wants some sort of “broad-based tax” that the starkly divided Legislature must come up with itself. However, since the only broad based tax proposal on the table right now is the House’s income tax, his eighth item is clearly meant to be an income tax.

Walker, as he did with HB 115, won’t offer the tax under his own name. He’s seen the polling, and it’s heavily opposed to his position and that of the Rasmuson Foundation, which is pushing for an income tax.

The governor’s Chief of Staff Scott Kendall has been visiting House Republicans to talk about what the governor wants, and he’s telling them there is no negotiating: Walker wants it all — higher oil taxes, an income tax, and Permanent Fund restructuring through SB 26.

“Expert testimony to both houses of the legislature has made clear that any complete plan to solve Alaska’s fiscal crisis must close the budget deficit this year, and include a broad-based revenue measure to connect Alaska’s economy to the services government provides,” Walker said in a statement.

What it means to “connect Alaska’s economy to the services government provides” is not clear, but it’s noteworthy that Walker mentions no trimming to those government spending programs.

GOVERNOR’S RACE NOW A FACTOR

The 2018 gubernatorial race now looms over the special session. It’s no secret that Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla is all-but-certain to run for governor. He removed himself from the caucus earlier this year so that he could continue to stand for deeper budget cuts.

But it’s also possible that Senate President Pete Kelly will launch a campaign for governor. He’s been encouraged by many to do so.

If Kelly has any hope of being successful in that endeavor, it means that this battle over budgets and taxes is a battle from which he cannot back down. Kelly is seen as a principled leader and he’s already said he won’t go along with an income tax. Even if he chooses not to run for governor, he’s not the kind of political warrior who will cave on taxes.

If Walker wants to be governor again, he can only hope he loses the battle for an income tax and that Kelly wins this round, because the optics, no matter how much the governor wants to keep the tax off of himself — are bad. Imagine the bill signing ceremony that would take place when Walker has to put his signature on an income tax bill.

Who besides Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott would attend such a ceremony? Rep. Paul Seaton of Homer, perhaps.

It’s more likely that the governor, who is now ramping up into campaign mode, would simply allow the tax go into effect without his signature, therefore keeping the stink of an income tax as far away as possible. However, if an income tax becomes law, the sitting Governor on whose watch it happens will not be able duck responsibility for it.

HOUSE AND SENATE BUDGETS ARE A HALF BILLION APART

The Senate has already compromised with the governor by passing SB 26. They did so and insisted on cuts to the budget to go along with it.

The House Democrats have not compromised, but instead actually increased the governor’s budget by over $200 million, with no argument or signal of disapproval from Walker.

Between the Senate’s $300 million in cuts and the House’s $200 million in add-ons, the two bodies are $500 million apart on spending.

Special session starts today at 11 am. The governor will have to send pink slips to State employees on June 1, and with the governor’s game of chicken, a government shutdown might be in the works for July 1. Savvy Alaskans may want to get all their licenses renewed and paperwork filed before that date.

Written by

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

  • I say the Senate Majority should allow the government to shut down and put all the blame squarely on the Governor and the Democratic lead Senate that is unwilling to compromise on anything.

  • I want my ALASKA back. We are taken down the rabbit hole of WASHINGTON DC bureaucrats. Enough is enough. Many of us moved to Alaska many years ago because of its freedom for the people, now look at what we have !!!!! Crime is sky high, Anchorage is now a sancuary city. When you allow this then you open your doors to more crime and that is what it got. Crime brings death and that too is what is happening. Families no longer feel safe in their homes, parks or even shopping, let alone kids walking to school or waiting for the bus. How can this man continue to allow our state go downhill and call himself an Alaskan? He has destroyed our world here and our way of life and isn’t finished yet. Businesses are closing down, many that have been here for manymany years. People are leaving the state and jobs are being lost every single day. So how will this state survive his chopping block? Oh yes TAX TAX TAX and steal the PFD as if it was his to do with as he wishes. ALASKANS…WE ARE SO SCREWED. Forget having a PFD to pay bills, buy extra food and supplies for the winter, or that new wood burning stove, clothes for the kids, a new used car or a down payment so you don’t need to rent anymore. Say goodbye to all of it. Now since no one will be able to do all that the businesses you would have gone to to buy your items will not have your money and so they will layoff and finally shut down letting people go and more added to unemployment. The cycle is vicious but no one thinks outside the box on the long term effect all they see is the short term for one fiscal year. Raid the frig enough times its empty and no money for more food…..think about it. Its your kids and grand kids that will pay the worst penalty of all. Are you willing to look them in the eye and say “I didn’t know?” or fight this now and stand up for once in your life and be the Alaskan you claim to be…………….DUMP THIS TYRANT NOW before we lose everything.

  • THANK YOU, THANK YOU sum carr!!!

    LETS MAKE ALASKA GREAT AGAIN DUMP walker.Just think we have roughly 18 months to go, will we make it?

    When walker bowed down before the China’s President it validated that he was an obama clone. If he thinks he can extort the Alaskan citizens and oil companies just take a look at Flint Hills Refinery, oh wait its gone just like the North Slope producers MAY do.

  • The citizens dont want it. The senate doesnt want it. The governer is obvoiusly not representing the people at all. He was elected to represent the people. Igs clear he has no intension on working FOR Alaskans. Time to call for impeachment.

  • Senator Kelly wants to take 75% of our PFD to fund government. I would like to see how he ducks that one if he runs for governor.

  • I intend to not only vote against any rep and senator who supported the theft of the PFD and implementing an income tax, while refusing to cut government back to the staffing it was the last time oil revenues were similar, but am going to donate and support their opponents to assure they loose their jobs because of this stance. Government has grown enormously particularly in the Anchorage and Fairbanks areas, and their representatives don’t want to cut back and see ‘their economies’ shrink. I am also opposed to the oil rebates and gifts of our PFD’s to big oil who has made record profits and has not been paying their fair share!
    I am also going to predict Walker will not be re-elected, nor many of these politicians who have supported this theft and piss poor management of our resources.

  • Dear Employee Bill Walker
    I just want to make sure you understand who you work for- The people of Alaska. Now that we’ve settled that, your rebuttal is not needed when your bosses are talking.

    I understand it’s been a hard year. Oil revenues are down and your budget looks like it was created by a couple of burned out hippies passing the bong around. The cuts you asked for are insufficient. You’re asking the working people of Alaska to sacrifice their buying power for your bloated government. Sharpen your pencil and try again.

    “Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein