MOTHER SEATON STEWING: What will House Democrats do with that poison pill they stirred into SB 26 — the Permanent Fund restructuring bill?
The poison pill says SB 26 won’t pass unless lawmakers also pass income taxes (HB 115) and higher oil taxes (HB 111).
SB 26 uses earnings reserves from the Permanent Fund to pay for government, provides a steady dividend for Alaskans, puts a spending cap in place and makes needed cuts to government. No new taxes are required with SB 26.
House Democrats, led by crossover Rep. Paul Seaton, insist on income taxes and higher oil taxes. Senate Republicans will not abide by new taxes.
Then there’s Governor Tax Bill, who had Seaton advance the income tax bill for him and who now needs a budget without further drama.
Walker does not want to send out pink slips as he did in 2015, because he is already running for re-election. It is bad branding to be the “Pink Slip Governor,” who promised his nonpartisan advantage was that everyone would get along with him.
If he wants an income tax, Walker will have to put on his big-boy pants, come out from behind Rep. Paul Seaton’s skirts, and put his own name on the tax proposal.
It all makes one weary. Especially when income taxes would hit working Alaskans when they can least take it in this recession.
SB 26, as offered by the Senate, solves the fiscal crisis. Alaskans also will get solid dividends, as much as the economy is used to getting every year in Alaska.
But the Democrats have been hungering for income taxes for decades, so the fight goes on.
Budget conference committee starts today, and the pieces are in place to keep the government running one more year with help from the Earnings Reserve account of the Permanent Fund. In other words, the budget mimics SB 26 but doesn’t put it into statute. It’s not the ideal solution, but there is no need for a government shutdown, unless Walker wants one.
- Is Rep. Seaton going to come off his strong support of an income tax?
- Will the House Democrat-led majority fall apart due to no income tax and a Permanent Fund restructure?
- If there’s an extension on the extended session, will the House Democrat-led majority stop working on nonessential bills?
- If SB 26 passed, would it draw an immediate citizens’ initiative, and give Mark Begich something to run on for governor?
- Is a government shutdown in our future, say, starting July 1?
- Will Rep. Seaton really take money from education, troopers and snowplowing and give it back to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp?
THIS WEEK IN JUNEAU
11 am – Senate floor session
11 am – House floor session – HB 132, to allow ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft, to be voted on.
1 pm – Conference Committee meets to hash out the operating budget, HB57, and the Mental Health budget HB59
1 pm – House Resources will discuss HB 173, the climate change commission that Rep. Geran Tarr and Andy Josephson want.
1:30 pm – House Finance takes up SB 23, capital budget. Look for additions from Democrats. Also will take up HB 105, special management area for Denali wolves.
3 pm – HJR 20 – Reps. Andy Josephson and Justin Parish have a resolution urging Congress to retain Obamacare Medicaid expansion.
CONFIRMATION HEARINGS: Tuesday at 1 pm, expect a joint session confirmation vote for a certain attorney general, Jahna Lindemuth, and a certain board of game member, Karen Linnell, both controversial. But none are so controversial as Drew Phoenix, formerly known as Ann Gordon, who the governor wants on the Human Rights Commission. Mr. Phoenix has scrubbed his past so it passes the white glove test. Nothing before he transitioned to being a man is discoverable, and he didn’t call Must Read Alaska to fill in the details of his life. All anyone knows about him is what he has done since becoming a man, which is to be a champion for transgenderism, move to Alaska and start over, as so many end-of-the-roaders have done.