Gov. Walker plans to call fourth special session of the year to increase state revenue

I'd be glum, too.Gov. Bill Walker heads into the closed-door meeting with the Republican House minority on Monday, June 5, 2017. (Courtesy Office of the Governor)

Gov. Bill Walker has settled on Oct. 23 for a much-anticipated special session on revenue, according to an email sent to legislators today.

Legislators got the alert today in an email from Darwin Peterson, the governor’s legislative director, who said the date was decided in discussions with Senate President Pete Kelly and House Speaker Bryce Edgmon. The agenda will be “on the subject of revenue” and an official proclamation will be coming soon. The location of the session, as stated in the email, is Juneau.

Dear legislators,

I hope you’re all having an enjoyable interim and getting lots of quality family time. There has been a lot of talk about a special session in October. It has been and remains the Governor’s intent to call the Legislature into a special session this fall on the subject of revenue. The Governor has talked to both the Senate President and Speaker about timing for a special session and has settled on October 23rd as the best time to convene the Legislature in Juneau for the 4th special session. An official proclamation will be forthcoming, but I wanted to give you all as much notice as possible.

Darwin Peterson

Walker has frequently discussed the need for the Legislature to return to session this fall to address some sort of new revenue to patch the state’s multi-billion dollar deficit. It’s almost assured that the restructuring of the permanent fund will be on the agenda—a version of this legislation has already passed both chambers but has been hung up pending other negotiations—and some sort of tax such as an income tax, sales tax or head tax.

During the interminable extended session and additional special sessions, support seemed to gel around a modified head tax that was bracketed on income. It was seen as a compromise on an income tax as it was simpler and easier to administer, though it raised concerns about its regressive impact on lower income Alaskans.

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