Walker to State Chamber: I need more money




Gov. Bill Walker’s speech to the Alaska Chamber of Commerce’s Fall Forum on Wednesday came during a crucial time in his administration’s budget cycle.

Department budgets are now nearly finalized and are ready to be hammered into the budget system. Within two weeks, they’ll be 99 percent done, if this administration is anything like others.

The governor by now knows what his budget is going to generally look like going into the next fiscal year. He will be presenting the budget to the Alaska Legislature the first week of December.

But Walker didn’t mention any budget particulars to the State Chamber, a group that has consistently told him to cut agency budgets first before pursuing new revenues. What he said was, in essence, “I’m going to need some more money.”

Walker said he will present a similar package of taxes during the upcoming legislative session, only now those taxes will be higher.

“Some will be higher than last year,” he said. “If we don’t do something this year, it will be more difficult in subsequent years.”

The taxes he will propose may very well include an increase in corporation taxes, according to those close to the administration.

“We have to have some stability, take the volatility out of our income so the Legislature doesn’t have to worry about huge rises and large falls,” he said, describing the pitfalls of being an oil-dependent economy.

“I want to make sure no future governor ever has to make the kinds of decisions I have to make,” Walker said.

Later during the fall meeting, former state budget director Cheryl Frasca said that actual cuts to agency operations during the last budget cycle were under 10 percent.

She said the 44 percent number that Commissioner of Revenue Randall Hoffbeck was touting as cuts included all cuts going back to 2013.