‘IT’S NOT WITHIN MY POWER’
Gov. Bill Walker held a brief press conference today to discuss the progress of the special session and the impending shutdown of state government in nine days.
And then he did something he may live to regret.
He answered a question from KTVA reporter Liz Raines, who asked why he doesn’t limit the call of the special session to the budget. Why not take everything off the call but the budget and avoid a government shutdown?
Walker responded, “I can’t take anything off the call. My role is once I put something on the call, it stays there.”
“Once I put something on the call, it’s not within my powers to remove it from the call.” – Gov. Bill Walker
But that’s not the case.
In October of 2015, Walker did amend his call for special session. He withdrew “an act to monetize certain natural gas reserves through the levy of a gas reserves tax. This proclamation supplements my proclamation of September 24, 2015.” Apparently, amending a special session call is only legal when he wishes it to be:
INSTEAD, A PLETHORA OF NEWS RELEASES
Meanwhile, instead of narrowing his focus to passing a budget, the governor issued a series of 15 press releases from his different departments today, describing the crisis that is about to hit Alaska if government shuts down on July 2 and putting together an incident command structure for when there is no government.
A review of history shows that removing items from a call for special session is rather ordinary:
Gov. Sean Parnell removed something from a call. In 2012, he removed oil tax reform, saying the bipartisan working group in the Senate appeared “incapable of passing comprehensive oil tax reform.”
Gov. Frank Murkowski completely rescinded his call for special session.
In fact, Alaska’s strong-governor form of government gives Walker broad powers to do just about anything, including shut the government down.
Instead of saying he “can’t” take items off his call for special session, Walker might have been more transparent by saying: “I’m choosing not to take anything off the call because I need to frighten my 20,000 employees in order to get my income tax, higher oil taxes, and higher motor fuel taxes.”
Rather than transparency, we get a blizzard of press releases.