News that Gov. Bill Walker will call the Alaska Legislature into its fourth special session of 2017 in late October prompts several reactions.
One is a rather awed admiration of the governor’s dogged efforts to prod the Legislature into action regarding the State of Alaska’s revenue situation.
The state has been burning through it savings since 2014 when prices of oil — the main revenue source for Alaska’s government — plunged and never recovered. Although long-term forecasts suggest oil prices will stay low well into the future, the Legislature has yet to approve a fiscal plan to slow the savings burn or retain government services at anything close to current levels once the regular savings accounts actually do run dry.
Despite the governor’s admirable effort in providing the Legislature with extra opportunities to address the issue before the 2018 election year, news of a fourth special session evokes images of Don Quixote tilting at windmills or Sisyphus rolling boulders uphill. Try as he might to spark legislative action, Walker seems locked in an impossible task. This Legislature doesn’t seem likely to reach a revenue deal until the regular savings are gone, its options have evaporated and the wolves are clawing through the Capitol door.
So, pondering the potential of a futile special session in October doesn’t prompt cheerful thoughts. Why spend more time, money and effort on trying to accomplish something that’s probably not going to happen?
Because there’s a slight chance it could. Perhaps the Legislature’s government cutters, tax proposers, oil-credit changers, Alaska Permanent Fund reformers and what-me-worry?-ers can come up with a solution.
Not likely, but still in the realm of the possible. We’re with Walker in thinking it’s worth a shot.
— Ketchikan Daily News,