Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 12:42 pm
By the time House and Senate members return to Juneau after Memorial Day weekend, they will have burned through 14 days of a 30-day special session without much, if anything, to show for it.
Two days later, pink slips will go out to virtually every state worker with the possible exception of troopers, corrections officers and Pioneer Home employees.
If only they could be sent to the 60 legislators as well.
Both bodies have passed operating budgets as well as bills to use Permanent Fund earnings and end the state’s cashable oil tax credit program.
Posted Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 12:34 pm
Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 1:08 pm
The PFD is not a suicide pact.
The Alaska House and Senate are now engaged in a high-stakes game of chicken as the session has gone into overtime with less than 30 days to go before the mandated adjournment.
On one side is the Senate arguing it is protecting pocketbooks the most, while the House has taken the position of picking the most pockets.
At the center of it all is the Permanent Fund dividend.
The Senate would cap it at $1,000 for three years; the House at $1,250 for two.
Posted Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 12:38 pm
It was Alaska House Majority Leader Chris Tuck for the win during a recent episode of “Democrats Say the Darndest Things.”
Amid the debate on the House floor April 10 over the oil tax policy rewrite hastily introduced and passed within three days by a single vote, the Anchorage Democrat uttered the most fallacious argument among the many offered by his cohort.
First the runners-up.
There was Rep. Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, describing 2016 Alaska profits of $85 million by BP and $265 million by ConocoPhillips as “gigantic.”
Posted Tuesday, April 04, 2017 - 4:45 pm
It was a good day to be a shareholder in General Communication Inc.
Shares of the Anchorage-based telecom leapt 62 percent, from $20.56 to close at $33.39, after a deal was announced April 4 to sell a controlling interest to Colorado-based Liberty Interactive Corp. for $1.12 billion that included a huge premium on existing shares.
The deal will pay existing GCI shareholders $32.50 per share; the company’s stock has traded between $12 and $20 over the previous year.
Posted Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 10:58 am
After years of debate and endless hearings on the subject, it’s remarkable at this late date that Dan Seckers still had to teach a chapter out of “Tax Policy for Dummies” at the March 22 meeting of the House Finance Committee.
The tax counsel for ExxonMobil actually had to explain the difference between a statutory tax rate and an effective tax rate to Finance Vice Chair Les Gara, D-Anchorage, in a lengthy exchange that descended into the surreal from the sheer remedial nature of it.
Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - 10:50 am
The first time Bill Armstrong met former Gov. Sean Parnell several years back he pointed at a map of the North Slope and told him where he intended to find a huge amount of oil.
A confident Texas wildcatter is about as uncommon as a member of the House Majority that wants to raise taxes on the oil industry, but only one of them is actually good for Alaska.
As information has trickled out over the years since Armstrong and his former majority partner Repsol began exploring, he has been proven more and more right.
Posted Wednesday, March 01, 2017 - 1:00 pm
As Ron Burgundy may say, “That escalated quickly.”
Things went sideways not long after House Resources Committee Co-Chair Garen Tarr, D-Anchorage, began a Feb. 22 hearing that was, in her words, to hear from the state’s “industry partners” about the oil tax increases proposed in House Bill 111 introduced by her and her fellow Democrats on the body.
Less than six minutes later, Tarr put the smack down on the lead representative of the state’s partners, Alaska Oil and Gas Association President Kara Moriarty.
Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2017 - 12:08 pm
Dating back to before statehood, Alaskans know that overfishing is a bad thing.
Stopping overfishing of salmon and regaining control of the resource was in fact one of the driving forces in the effort to become a state.
What we know about sustainability of our vast fisheries resources is worth applying to yet another debate over another immense asset — our oil — and the means by which that resource is taxed.
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - 12:20 pm
We aren’t hearing much from the opponents of the 2013 oil tax reform lately.
Facts tend to get in the way of rhetorical hyperbole, and it appears that reality has finally caught up with Democrats and Gov. Bill Walker, who collectively agitated for the repeal Senate Bill 21 in a 2014 voter referendum.
Losing that fight didn’t end the debate, however.
Nor did the undisputed evidence from Walker’s own Revenue Department that SB 21 was bringing in more money than the previous system as prices started to slide late in 2014.
Posted Thursday, January 05, 2017 - 9:59 am
A brutal year in the Alaska oil patch ended on a positive note as calendar year 2016 followed the fiscal year trend with an increase in North Slope production.
Amid the worst price environment since the late 1990s resulting in thousands of layoffs for the oil industry, production grew in the fiscal year ended June 30 and for the calendar year ended Dec. 31.
Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2016 - 12:10 pm
Not unlike an evicted renter who plugs the toilets and punches holes in the drywall in a petulant rage against the homeowner, President Barack Obama appears intent on causing as much damage as possible before he’s finally forced to exit the White House on Jan. 20.
Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2016 - 2:35 pm
The next year could be even wilder than 2016, if that’s possible.
In less than a month, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States and the Alaska Legislature will convene in Juneau for its last serious crack at addressing the state’s burgeoning budget deficits.
It’s almost appropriate that one of Gov. Bill Walker’s last acts of the year was to kill the Juneau Access Project, because the Legislature has run out of road to kick the can.
Posted Friday, December 16, 2016 - 12:12 pm
President-elect Donald Trump reportedly offered defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton five cents on the dollar for the fireworks victory display she canceled at the last moment, but he could save all his money and just watch liberals’ heads explode as he fills his cabinet.
There’s a saying that you can judge someone by the company they keep, which is true, but sometimes it as just as useful to see who are their adversaries.
Posted Wednesday, September 07, 2016 - 12:40 pm
The home of the Salem witch trials has birthed another effort to hang the imagined heretics, and the State of Alaska is seeking to supply the judges with the rope.
Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - 11:55 am
Much like Usain Bolt in the 100-meter dash, contests for the state Legislature in November figure to be races in name only.
What drama could be found took place on primary night and ended up decided by a tiny fraction of Alaskans even in the contested elections.
Democrats succeeded in toppling one of their top targets within their party — Rep. Bob Herron of Bethel — and Republicans did the same by taking out one of their own as George Rauscher defeated Rep. Jim Colver in the Mat-Su Valley.
Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - 1:14 pm
Gov. Bill Walker likes to talk about his background in construction and how much he loves building things, but so far after a little more than 18 months in office his most successful project has been demolition.
The effort to undermine and eventually dismantle the Alaska LNG Project that began within days of Walker taking office in December 2014 culminated July 22 with the official announcement that his former law partner and Attorney General Craig Richards had been signed to a $275-an-hour contract barely a month after he resigned citing personal reasons.
Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - 8:17 pm
The 29th session of the Alaska Legislature is starting to resemble the final scene of Reservoir Dogs when everyone ends up dead.
Gov. Bill Walker dropped the veto hammer on $1.3 billion worth of state spending on June 29 after the House Finance Committee refused to even allow a floor vote on using part of the Permanent Fund earnings to bridge a budget deficit of almost $4 billion.
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 4:31 pm
Gov. Bill Walker has said repeatedly he’s willing to take the hit for reducing the Permanent Fund Dividend as a partial solution to the state’s budget deficit, and it looks like he’s going to get that chance.
The Alaska House of Representatives adjourned the latest special session on June 18 one day after the Finance Committee failed to advance Senate Bill 128 for a floor vote.
SB 128, which passed the Senate 14-5, would have ensured a $1,000 dividend for the next three years and contributed about $1.8 billion toward reducing the fiscal year 2017 deficit.
Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - 4:20 pm
President Barack Obama was unsure of the motivations of a man who yelled “Allahu akbar” as he opened fire on hundreds of defenseless people at an Orlando nightclub, but he was certain what the real problem is.
“This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub,” he said. “And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”