After digging in its heels all session, the Senate Majority appears to be willing to play along with Gov. Bill Walker’s compromise. In a letter to Walker Tuesday—day 141 of the session—Senate leadership laid out its questions on the proposed Senate-friendly deal.
It’s a far cry from an endorsement of the deal, but it’s more than the House Majority’s rejection.
The Senate Majority looks like it’s finally interested in compromise and is acting like the adult in the room, at least on first read. That’s something it would certainly like to reinforce with the accompanying statement. But more likely, the Senate Majority is simply taking easy advantage of the House Majority’s willingness to paint itself into a corner.
The Senate Majority’s openness to the compromise, as I explained yesterday, isn’t entirely surprising. The compromise is generally much more beneficial to the Senate, which has advocated against taxes and for a more status quo treatment of the oil and gas industry. The Senate Majority also appears to still be pushing for its operating budget-first approach, which leaves plenty of room for shenanigans.
The House Majority gets its operating budget, which reverses the Senate’s deep cuts to education and the University of Alaska. The Senate was probably never serious about those cuts the first place and made them for leverage in such a situation. The House Majority also gets a sad mimicry of the income tax it pushed for.
Meanwhile the Senate Majority would get its version of the oil and gas bill with some version of ring-fencing, its version of the permanent fund bill that cuts the dividend deeper than the House and its proposed capital budget payments on the oil and gas tax credits. All it concedes are things it was likely going concede in the first place.
The questions contained in the letter reveal some of this, so let’s take a look.