The legislative working group tasked with presenting a long-term solution to the state’s fiscal imbalance has met a few times, but has little to show for their work since convening July 7. Many of the financial presentations that have been staged for the group have been heard numerous times during the regular session.
Now, the working group will begin meeting every day until the Aug. 2 special session, and may continue meeting even after that session begins, until the group has a product to offer the Legislature.
- The Thursday, July 22 meeting will be a public meeting, beginning at 2:30 pm with an overview of constitutional amendment proposals. The governor has requested that the Legislature allow the voters to decide if the Permanent Fund dividend calculation formula should be in the State Constitution. Documents are at this link. The meeting will be teleconferenced at this link.
- Friday, July 23 will be an “internal work session,” not open to the public. More of these private meetings will continue Saturday and Sunday.
- The next public meeting will be Monday, July 26 at 3 pm, with presentations from the different members on their proposed fiscal plans.
- On Tuesday and Wednesday, they’ll go back into “internal conversation,” otherwise known as executive session.
- The public will be able to provide testimony next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday:
- Thursday, July 29, 6-9 pm: Anchorage
- Friday, July 30, 6-9 pm: Mat-Su
- Saturday, July 31, 1-4 pm Fairbanks
At this point, the public doesn’t have the information to inform their testimony and it’s unclear when the public will be given the draft proposals.
- Sunday, Aug. 1, the co-chairs hope to wrap up “if we have anything to show for it,” according to the group’s schedule.
- Monday, Aug. 2 is the first day of special session. The House Speaker and Senate President may gavel in and out in a “technical session” if there is nothing from the working group to look at, and this could be the case for many days after special session starts.
The working group’s co-chairs are Sen. Lyman Hoffman, the longest serving legislator in Alaska history, and Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tompkins. Both are Democrats.
The group is trying to solve the problem created by Senate Bill 26 four years ago. That bill created a structured “draw” from the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account to help pay for government. But SB 26 did not address how the Permanent Fund dividend would be paid, and since SB 26 passed, the dividend has been relegated to a “what’s left over” status, in violation of Alaska Statute.