A voter initiative “requiring meetings of the Alaska Legislature to be held in Anchorage” was filed on Feb. 4. The petition application is under review, according to the Alaska Division of Elections. Here are two provisions from the pending initiative:
• “All regular and special meetings of the Alaska Legislature shall be held in the Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska”
• “Any and all language in any statute or regulation of the State of Alaska which states or implies that the Legislature must or should be held in the capital or elsewhere other than Anchorage is repealed to the extent of that type of statement or implication.
— Kevin Baird
Juneau’s all-Democratic delegation to the Capitol — Sen. Jesse Kiehl, Rep. Andi Story, and Rep. Sara Hannan — is planning a Town Hall meeting for March. Details should be available soon.
— Kevin Baird
The House Majority Coalition says a tax is off the table this year and there will be budget cuts.
“The sheer complexity of taking on the proposed change to the budget itself will consume most our time going forward,” House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, i-Dillingham, said in a morning press conference. “To take on the issue of new revenues as we did in 2017 takes a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of agency participation.”
Edgmon said he’s asked caucus members to “help share the pain.”
“Not everybody’s going to be happy with this budget this year,” Edgmon said. “Some are going to think we’ve cut too much, others are going to think the Permanent Fund Dividend isn’t big enough, and others may think we have not protected core services to the extent that we might have.”
Rep. Neal Foster, D-Nome, who co-chairs the finance committee, said Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed cut of $1.6 billion is not simply a cut. For example, he noted a component of that figure is shifting more than $500 million to local governments. This shift of cost is due to Dunleavy’s proposals to repeal the revenue sharing provisions in the fisheries business tax, repealing the local property tax on oil and gas intrastructure, and the debt reimbursement on school construction.
“It’s not just cuts we’re looking at here,” Foster said. “We’re trying to figure out what the impacts of pulling half of (the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority’s) reserves are, and the statutory budget reserve. Is drawing from the SBR and AIDEA, is that considered savings?… Technically in my opinion that breaks the governor’s commitment to not go into savings… I think legislators will have different interpretations of that. We have to flesh that out to see where folks stand before we move the body.”
Rep. Chuck Kopp, R-Anchorage, said the House Majority will cut the budget, but it will look different than what the governor has proposed.
— Kevin Baird