The Legislature has a credibility problem and it’s not only about trusting what legislators say

Alaska State Capitol The Alaska State Capitol as photographed in March 2017. (Photo by gillfoto/Creative Commons)

Friday finally saw the appointment of a conference committee on oil and gas taxes. It was expected to meet Monday, according to a tweet by the Juneau Empire’s James Brooks.

But, surprise! It didn’t.

In fact, Monday’s schedule was bare, as pointed out by Brooks.

To which I fired off a tweet saying “The #akleg is starting to have a credibility problem.”

The Legislature’s credibility problem is not as much about trusting what its members say as it is about the Legislature’s ability to make progress on the fiscal crisis.

Folks are losing hope that anything can be done.

With the looming government shutdown on July 1, it seems the caucuses are growing further apart from even passing the operating budget by itself much less a fiscal plan of any variety.

We saw that on Monday in the first responses to Gov. Bill Walker’s proposed compromise. His proposal was not only the first public indication that there might be progress on the budget, it was the first public indication that anyone was attempting compromise.

Instead, it was apparently dead by the end of the day with a swift rebuttal from the House Majority. There might be something salvaged out of here, but statements by Majority Leader Chris Tuck seem to paint the bipartisan coalition into a corner.

I doubt any caucus would have signed off on everything by the end of Monday, but Walker’s proposal was obviously intended as a blueprint to kickstart negotiations on day 19 of the special session.

With such an all-or-nothing statement from the House majority on Monday and such all-or-nothing statements from the Senate majority in the past, there’s no obvious path forward.

At least the House majority ostensibly seems motivated by the desire to pass a fiscal plan that they believe will bring stability to state budgeting. Their plan certainly isn’t going to be roaringly popular with voters.

Meanwhile the actions by others, whether it’s condescending videos posted to Facebook, snipe-y floor speeches or the need to make it look like you’re in Juneau when maybe you’re not smack of politics with an eye toward the 2018 elections.

The fiscal crisis is now.

Last Friday Walker told us that the Legislature wasn’t willing to compromise and on Monday, it seems, he showed us that’s the case.

But, hey, the conference committee on the operating budget is expected to meet today at 4 p.m., so at least there’s that to look forward to.

Follow @MattBuxton

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