What others say: Fourth go around

A fourth special legislative session this year would be prudent.

The state Legislature is well aware of Alaska’s financial situation. It started its regular session with the priority of dissolving the $2.5 billion budget deficit.

It took the regular session and three special sessions, largely because of this deficit, to come up with oil tax reform, an operating budget and, this week, a capital budget.

But, still, the deficit remains. No one really expected it to magically disappear. It takes time to scale down government programs and services, as well as make adjustments to increase revenue. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

The long-distance run should continue in 2017. The Legislature has momentum in its favor. It’s also the year before an election.

Once the election year starts, legislators will be distracted by it. It will be more difficult for them to come to bipartisan solutions in chambers when presenting their differences to voters outside the hallowed walls.

And any delays only increase the challenge of eliminating the deficit. State reserves will be about gone before the election ballots are counted in November 2018.

Addressing the deficit will take bipartisanship. The Senate and House votes on the capital budget split, 15-4 and 27-13 respectively, with Republicans in control of the Senate and Democrats of the House.

It will be at Gov. Bill Walker’s discretion to call a fourth special session.

The fourth session would be devised to make gains against the deficit.

No legislator goes home from Juneau and forgets about the deficit; nor have Alaskans forgotten about it. It’s still very much a factor in Alaska’s economy.

If the economy is to thrive, then the state has to have its finances in order.

The sooner the better.

—Ketchikan Daily News, July 29, 2017

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