Update for July 5th, 2017
For our office, coming back from the weekend means coming back to work on our remaining item on the Governor’s special session agenda: oil and gas tax credits. This week’s newsletter will include an update on where we’re at, where common ground exists, and what’s going on this summer!
Oil and Gas Tax Credits
As Senate President Kelly points out in his op-ed this morning, there is substantial agreement in the Capitol about addressing, and ultimately ending, the state’s current system of paying cash for oil and gas tax credits. While we’re proud to witness the successes of SB 21 and the growth in oil production, our states current deficit simply doesn’t allow the room to pay out these cash-credits.
How much are tax credits costing our state right now? $1 million per day. That is money that we could be putting towards state troopers, road maintenance, public health, and other critical services.
Ending the cash credit program does not mean we’re in the business of crippling our industry partners or shortsightedly hurting Alaska’s biggest source of revenue. Our tax structure remains competitive with the rest of the world and includes tools to help smaller producers get revenue- and job-generating projects online.
With the price tag of $1 million per day, we have to act on ending cash payments as soon as possible! House Representatives Josephson and Tarr are the chairs of the conference committee, in whose hands the tax credit legislation currently is held. Our office, along with many others, is working to encourage them to hold a meeting as soon as possible to take action of this critical bill, and end this long special session. It is encouraging to know that compromise exists on this bill, but that only matters if these two Representatives actually let it get to the floor for a vote. We will keep you posted as progress occurs!
It was certainly a relief to finally be able to vote on a budget to continue the states essential services, and see it signed by the Governor last week. A government shutdown would have been crippling to our private and public sector, and I’m glad to have that uncertainty and risk removed from the equation. However, this budget isn’t perfect, and our work on providing for a sustainable path for Alaska’s future is not yet done. While the compromise budget does in fact fund government through the fiscal year, it takes an unmaintainable amount from our savings account, leaving very little left for any future downturns.
So, what happens next? The Legislature this year came to general agreement that our state can be using our current assets in a better, more profitable manner. At risk if we do not pass some kind of asset reform are Alaska’s credit rating – which is currently trending down –, economic stability, and our ability to fund essential services, like public safety and health, in the future. With the current price of oil below $50 per barrel and the recession it is causing in our state, we truly need to put a fiscal plan in place. Work this summer needs to focus on where we can come together on a fiscal plan, which at this point has centered on reforming the use of the Earnings Reserve account. Our office will be continuing to concentrate on this idea, and ensuring that working Alaskans and our private sector economy do not bear the brunt of any plan passed by the Legislature.
Seward Highway Project Update – Dowling/Dimond
Traffic from folks getting out of town this weekend certainly highlighted the ongoing construction on the Seward Highway. Below is the most recent update we’ve received from the Dept. of Transportation:
NEW TRAFFIC PATTERN: Southbound Seward Highway traffic has shifted from the Seward Highway to Homer Drive, which now acts the southbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45 MPH throughout the construction zone.
NEW TRAFFIC PATTERN: Northbound Seward Highway traffic has shifted from the Seward Highway to Brayton Drive, which now acts as the northbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45 MPH throughout the construction zone.
Please note that no side road access will be permitted to and from the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads during construction.
Work will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through mid-October, in order to expedite the construction process.
Do you have a soon-to-be kindergartener at home? The Anchorage School District is hosting events this summer to help parents prepare their student and themselves for what lies ahead in the coming school year, and what you can do this summer to help get ready! Starting school can be a big transition for families and having some tools can help you feel more prepared for this change.
Check out their Kindy Roundup website to find out more: https://www.asdk12.org/parents/kindyroundup/
School Lottery Program
The Anchorage School District is also still accepting applications for participating in the school lottery program. Up until July 27th, you can apply for your student to attend elementary, middle and high school programs including language immersion, high school medical and engineering specialties, and charter schools. We have some incredibly special programs in Anchorage that can give your student new and interesting opportunities in their education.
Learn more by visiting https://lotapp.asdk12.org/apply/
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this update, and for staying engaged as we work through the issues facing our state. Please continue to reach out with your questions, ideas and concerns. We’re here to serve you!
All my best,