By Dave Donaldson
Governor Parnell today presented what’s important to him before the end of session – scheduled now for April 18th.
This is the time in the legislative session when real work gets done.
He said his focus during the next eleven days will be a list of bills that he says are necessary for the state’s economy. He outlined them in a letter to legislative leaders today. His requirements are: reinstating the money he needs to work on a natural gas pipeline project to Canada; oil tax credits; a reduction in the tourism head tax; suspending the state tax on gasoline; the performance-based scholarship program; and a capital budget that includes money for maintenance work needed on state properties.
It’s hard to weight, weight these, and that’s why I said – I’ve told the legislators that if this package passes, we can stand together and assure Alaskans that there will be more jobs and more economic opportunity for us as a people than without it.
The Governor met with reporters in anticipation of the release of a capital projects budget in the Senate Finance Committee. And he pointed to a Divide among Alaskans on how jobs are created – one is the private sector, the other is state money. He wants to see both sources used.
The packages that I have includes tax incentives for new investment and new job creation. And it includes things like the deferred maintenance plan, where there’s public spending going to private sector contractors to do work. That’s the kind of combination I see working long term for Alaska. I don’t think we should depend upon a huge or bloated capital budget to fuel us over time.
Parnell did not hesitate in his assessment when reporters asked if his priority is to the level of calling a special session if he is satisfied with the results.
Absolutely. The number one, the number one priority for Alaskans is – they want us to focus on the economy and they want jobs now and they want opportunity in the future. So it really depends on what shapes up with this package from an economic perspective. But again, in the life of the legislature there’s a lot of time left to get this accomplished.
Late this afternoon, the Senate released its version of the Capital Projects Budget – showing an increase of five hundred fourteen million dollars over spending the governor requested. It increases grants for non-profits, more money for deferred maintenance, expenditures for such projects as clean water projects and ports maintenance. It is expected to be out of the committee by the end of the week.