Maybe we’re better off waiting ’til next year

  • Thursday, June 2, 2016 3:05pm
  • Opinion

On of the popular definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

And then there’s the Alaska Legislature.

After a year and a half of debate and discussion on the need to change the way the state funds government, lawmakers appear to be no closer to coming up with a solution to address the state’s fiscal gap. The operating budget passed by the Legislature on Tuesday certainly includes many spending compromises, but as Pat Pitney, Gov. Bill Walker’s budget director, noted, it barely moves the dial, leaving the state with a $3.3 billion deficit.

What the legislature has yet to do any heavy lifting on is a plan to cover the deficit with something other than savings. Gov. Walker has put forward a number of budget proposals that include use of the permanent fund earnings reserve and new or increased taxes. Lawmakers also have their own proposals to consider which would employ similar mechanisms to fund government.

Unfortunately, there does not appear to be support in the current Legislature to enact any of those measures, leading Gov. Walker to ask at a Wednesday press conference whether the state needed to go broke before lawmakers would fix the problem. According to the Associated Press, Gov. Walker could not yet say if he would call another special session should the Legislature fail to come up with a revenue plan, but made clear that he expects action.

“When I say we need to get the job done this year, I mean we need to get the job done this year,” he said.

Quite frankly, that job may be better left to the next Legislature. This one clearly doesn’t want to do it, and a half-hearted solution won’t suffice.

Between the time the current Legislature adjourns — whenever that may be — and the next Legislature convenes in January 2017, Alaska voters will be headed to the polls, first for the primary election on Aug. 16 and then the general election on Nov. 8. A number of lawmakers already have said they will not seek re-election, and we suspect that with the current lack of progress in Juneau, voters may not be so inclined to keep other incumbents in office. Regardless of what measures the Legislature passes, the state’s fiscal situation — and a plan to address it — will be a centerpiece of every candidate’s campaign.

We hate to see the state burn through its savings for another year while we wait for a solution.

But perhaps we’ll be better off if there’s people in office who actually want to find one.

More in Opinion

The official ballot for the Aug. 16, 2022, Special General Election features ranked choice voting. (State of Alaska Division of Elections)
Voices of the Peninsula: Check out the ballot before you vote

This kind of ballot is not something you have seen before.

Former Gov. Bill Walker, right, and his running mate former commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Heidi Drygas, speak to Juneauites gathered for a fundraiser at a private home in Juneau on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Why I’m voting for Walker

Walker is the only candidate with the potential to govern effectively for all Alaskans.

Nick Begich III campaign materials sit on tables ahead of a May 16 GOP debate held in Juneau. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Nick Begich is who Alaska and America need now

It is in Alaska’s best interest to elect a member of the Republican party

State Sen. Josh Revak (Photo provided)
The time has come to end Big Tech’s rule

The hope is that the bipartisan American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S. 2992) will come to the Senate floor for a vote

Michael Heimbuch attends a memorial service for the late Drew Scalzi on Aug. 5, 2005, at the Seafarers Memorial on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Point of View: King salmon: The clash of culture and science

People do some pretty awful things to king salmon stocks

Lieutenant governor candidate Edie Grunwald speaks at a Charlie Pierce campaign event at Paradisos restaurant in Kenai on Saturday, March 5, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Election Integrity: An Alaskan question with an Alaskan answer

A needless round of feel-good meetings and what-if conversations will be a thing of the past

This photo shows the University of Alaska Southeast campus in Juneau. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’m a longtime educator, and I’m supporting Walker/Drygas

The issues our state faces are significant with regard to education.

The offical ballot for the Aug. 16, 2022, Special General Election features ranked choice voting. (State of Alaska Divison of Elections)
Opinion: Alaskans deserve an election system that represents our differences

The new system’s goal is to make this election cycle transparent, secure and easy for all Alaskans to vote

Most Read