A Wednesday Senate State Affairs Committee meeting proved to be ground zero for some good political theater as a fight between the snotty tone of the State Senate met the rare trash talking of the Governor’s Office.
The meeting in Wasilla was called to hear testimony on the Governor’s priority bill (SB 50010) which reforms the structure of the Permanent Fund. Almost as soon as it began, Senators Charlie Huggins and Bill Stoltze repeatedly took turns with openly hostile and nakedly passive aggressive comments towards the Walker administration for not supplying more senior administration officials, such as Revenue Commissioner Randy Hoffbeck, to explain the bill to senators and answer their questions.
Sen. Huggins at one point said, of the relatively low-level officials provided to testify, “my observation is he (Governor Walker) is not looking for a solution.”
That prompted the following tweet from the Governor:
The games the Governor appears to be referencing is the apparent scheduling of legislative hearing(s) in a manner designed to cause the administration problems.
You see, the state legislature had scheduled hearings that day for the House Finance Committee in Juneau, the Senate Finance Committee in Anchorage, and the Senate State Affairs Committee in Wasilla all at the same time. As such, the administration was unable to provide senior officials to testify in all three.
You might ask why the administration didn’t tell the legislature of this problem so it could be resolved ahead of time. Well, they did. On Tuesday, Revenue Commissioner Randy Hoffbeck sent this letter to Stoltze explaining the problem:
So why didn’t Stoltze and Huggins change the meeting to accommodate a crowded schedule? That is a good question and one they have yet to answer.
For his part, the Governor didn’t back down from his tweet. In his press conference earlier today, he said: “We did have three different hearings scheduled in three different cities at the same time, and it was challenging to try and have Commissioner Hoffbeck in three different places at the same time.”