Gov. Bill Walker released his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year today, calling for a new biennial budgeting process and criticizing the years of uncertain budgeting at the hands of the Alaska Legislature.
Walker’s most dramatic proposal includes a change to state law that would automatically cut off legislative per diem and pay if the the Legislature hasn’t passed a budget by the end of the 90-day regular session. The Legislature has had a knack for passing the budget well beyond the end of the 90-day session in the last few years thanks to contentious negotiations over piecemeal solutions to the state’s multi-billion dollar budget deficit.
“It’s a terrible way to run a state, and it’s incredibly inconsiderate of those who depend on a budget being approved,” he said, referring to stories of state employees who’ve received pink slips and private industries that rely on state regulators. “We need to give ourselves pink slips before we give pink slips to other people.”
That change will require the Legislature to sign off on a change to state law, but Walker said he thinks it can be done.
“There should be consequences for what you do and what you don’t do. If any governor doesn’t get a budget out by the 15th there should be consequences for that. The consequence should be governor’s pay should stop,” he said. “I believe that’s the same for the Legislature. If they don’t get it done by the 90th day, their pay should stop. Their per diem should stop. They shouldn’t be rewarded for what I call bad behavior. … It’s just the right thing to do.”
It’s a similar proposal to a bipartisan voter initiative backed by two legislators among others (that initiative also has the backing of the owner of this publication). That petition is currently in the signature-gathering process, but it stands to have an impact on next year’s election narrative.