It has been an odd week in Alaska politics. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg came to the Last Frontier, learned our savage ways, and decided to educate the world about them (only to get a few details wrong). Then, with our endless legislative special session now set to focus on oil industry tax policy (HB 111), the Republican State Senate Majority, including Sen. Pete Kelly and Sen. Cathy Giessel, seemingly held a press conference to rail against cushy cash subsidies state government gives to oil companies. Wait, it was Republicans complaining about what a sweet, sweet deal the resource industry gets in Alaska? Democrats in the House Majority responded by holding a press conference of their own to point out some fine print in the GOP theater that makes the Senate plan much more oil friendly than they let on. Casey Reynolds and Forrest Dunbar sort through all of those political shenanigans, talk some healthcare and weed policy, and even bring in Alaska Tax Division Director Ken Alper to explain the fine points of oil tax policy at play in the HB 111 fight.
This evening, incoming Senate President Sen. Pete Kelly issued a statement following up on comments made Thursday by one of Governor Bill Walker’s top fiscal policy advisors, Director of the Alaska Department of Revenue’s Tax Division Ken Alper, about the state’s over $4 Billion budget deficit. In those comments, Alper said lawmakers need to focus on new revenues to close the state’s over $4 Billion budget deficit , including a restructuring of the Permanent Fund to use some of the fund’s revenues for other state functions.