The Alaska House Republicans, Senate Republican Majority and Senate Democrats has asked Gov. Mike Dunleavy for an additional two weeks for the Comprehensive Fiscal Policy Working Group to continue their work before special session begins. It was scheduled to begin on Monday, but the Alaska House Majority Coalition majority asked for an extension not later than Aug. 9.
Sources say Dunleavy is likely to agree to postponing the special session, which will determine the amount of the Permanent Fund dividend and other fiscal matters facing the state.
“It is imperative we give this process the greatest opportunity for success. We must give the Comprehensive Fiscal Policy Working Group more time to complete their important task,” said House Minority Leader Cathy Tilton of Chugiak.
“We’ve worked hard to find common ground and I suspect that what we forward to the full Legislature won’t make anyone happy but that’s likely a sign of a good compromise. The process has definitely been slow, but our work is important. The timing is right for this discussion and a positive outcome will be worth the time spent. We MUST persevere,” said Rep. Ben Carpenter, a member of the Comprehensive Fiscal Policy Working Group.
“A full 2021 dividend is still of paramount importance for many members of our caucus” said Rep. Kevin McCabe of Big Lake, also a member of the working group. “New constitutional amendments regarding spending or future taxes are incredibly important, but until we tackle how we’ll treat the dividend, going forward, I doubt we’ll make much progress.”
Public testimony is scheduled from Thursday through Saturday, this week. Rep. Mike Prax of North Pole, who is an alternate on the working group, said “It is unfortunate that public testimony is scheduled during the same weekend when there is a major airshow at Eielson AFB and concurrent with the start of Tanana Valley State Fair. I hope that every concerned Alaskan will share their thoughts.”
Public testimony begins Thursday from 6-9 pm at the Anchorage Legislative Information Offices at the corner of Benson Blvd. and Minnesota Drive. The group will take additional public testimony at the Mat-Su LIO from 6-9 pm, Friday, July 30. The group will be in Fairbanks on Saturday, July 31, from 10 am to 4 pm and will conclude public testimony in Juneau on Monday Aug. 2 from 6-9 pm.