With just a couple weeks to go until the next legislative session begins, Alaska’s elected officials have a hefty to-do list. In no particular order, here it is:
• Restructuring the Permanent Fund earnings in order to use a portion to pay for state government, and possibly reducing the annual citizens’ dividend.
• Considering whether to raise or institute new taxes.
• Cutting spending.
Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services lowered the outlook on the State of Alaska’s credit rating from “stable” to “negative” on Aug. 18, and gave politicians one year to reorganize the fiscal house before the downgrades accelerate.
Standard and Poor’s wrote that the current budget deficit is inconsistent with the state’s “AAA” rating on its general obligation bonds and its “AA+” on appropriation-backed bonds, but cited the state’s still healthy budget reserves as a bridge that could maintain the high ratings.
ANCHORAGE — It was tough to find anyone who was more excited than Sen. Lisa Murkowski at Dan Sullivan’s election night party.
Warming up the crowd before Sullivan entered as final vote tallies were still rolling in, and with the Republican challenger maintaining a lead over incumbent Sen. Mark Begich, Murkowski walked away from the microphone and grabbed a chair, lofting it over her head and asking the crowd if they knew what it meant for the U.S. Senate.
“I’m the chair!” she exclaimed to wild cheers and applause.
Editor’s note: This is the seventh in the Morris Communications series, “The case for conserving the Kenai king salmon.”
It’s a lesson every elected official in Alaska learns firsthand sooner or later, and Gov. Sean Parnell got a fresh reminder this past April in the waning days of the legislative session when his nomination of Vince Webster to a second term on the Board of Fisheries was rejected by a 30-29 vote.