What others say: Ready for Round 3?

  • By Ketchikan Daily News editorial
  • Wednesday, June 21, 2017 12:23pm
  • Opinion

We’re headed into Round 3.

The Alaska House adjourned Thursday without compromising with the Senate on a state operating budget and coming to a solution to the budget deficit.

The House majority simply adopted its own version of the budget, combining the operating and capital documents, and, by moving out of session, basically told the Senate to “deal with it.”

This hasn’t been received well by the Senate, nor did the House minority applaud the process.

People, whether it’s Alaskans or others, don’t respond well to just-deal-with-it statements. It smacks of a dictatorship, of which Alaska isn’t, and, of course, it fails to endear the ruler to the ruled over.

It appears the House leadership is maneuvering to gain politically with its adjournment. House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, a Dillingham Democrat, told The Associated Press that the House majority acted to prevent a government shutdown.

Ending the session as the House did won’t prevent a shutdown. The Senate didn’t accept the House’s budget version before session’s end, and it won’t find it more palatable because of a grandstand move by the House.

Edgmon also stated the Senate refused to consider any deficit-reduction opportunities other than reducing Alaska Permanent Fund dividend payouts. But both bodies proposed dividend reductions in the course of the legislative session.

The House’s proposed budget restores the full amount of the permanent fund dividend and the $69 million taken out of K-12 education by the Senate.

As for the deficit, it remains at $2.5 billion.

If the House and Senate were coming to a compromise as Sen. Pete Kelly indicated following the House’s adjournment, the House majority’s move possibly will reduce the likelihood of that and add to an already tense situation.

Even Gov. Bill Walker admits neither body will get it all its own way; there must be a compromise. It won’t come easy, given the House is controlled by Democrats and the Senate by Republicans.

In the meantime, a July 1 government shut down looms.

Walker called a second special session Friday, but until Alaskans squawk about lost services, the likelihood of further sessions producing a budget appear remote.

The situation isn’t sufficiently real to legislators’ constituents yet. Services are still being provided. But when they aren’t, and if Alaskans feel affected as a result, that’s when legislators will become more willing to work across party lines to prepare budgets, reduce the deficit and relieve the distress of displeased constituents.

Round 3 — the special session that started Friday — might not be the last.

— Ketchikan Daily News,

June 17

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