AJOC EDITORIAL: House gambit a waste of everyone’s time

  • Rep. Andy Josephson, Rep. Geran Tarr and Sen. Donny Olson at the House Bill 111 conference committee meeting on July 12 in Anchorage. (Photo/Andrew Jensen/AJOC)

If the House Democrats keep up these futile political gestures, someday they may grow up to be Congressional Republicans.

The latest last-second nonsense from the Democrats managed to top their ridiculous vote in June when they introduced — and approved with the help of half the Republican caucus — a $2,200 PFD as they stuffed the operating budget into the capital budget bill before adjourning the first special session called by Gov. Bill Walker.

Now with three days to go in the current second special session, House Democrats introduced another non-starter July 12 with their proposal to simply end net operating loss deductions for oil companies in a hopeless gambit to force the Senate to the table to rewrite the entire oil tax structure.

Once again the House Democrats look clueless about the amount of leverage they hold and reveal their claimed concern for stability in the oil industry means jack and squat.

Walker, rather than hold another press conference that says and does nothing, could put a quick end to the Democrats’ games by declaring what kind of bill he will sign.

He could simply say, “I will not sign a bill that raises taxes or cuts deductions, so don’t bother sending me one.”

There’s no chance the Senate would ever approve such a bill, but such a statement from Walker would send a strong message to the House to stop jerking around.

A couple statements at the Wednesday hearing from the House Resources co-chairs Andy Josephson and Geran Tarr were laughable.

Tarr repeatedly said that the Constitutional Budget Reserve is empty because it will be drawn down to about $2 billion after covering the deficit for the 2018 fiscal year.

Setting aside her definition of “empty” regarding the state’s cash flow, what she never mentioned is that the $2.5 billion CBR draw wouldn’t have happened if the House had agreed to pass a bill to use the Permanent Fund earnings to help fund the budget.

Instead, just like ending the cashable oil credits, the House demanded a $700 million income tax and killed a necessary fiscal reform on which both sides agree in their quixotic quest for new and higher taxes.

As an argument for ending the net operating loss deductions with a deadline to compel action for a replacement system, Josephson said the Legislature does its Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve.

In case he hasn’t noticed, the Legislature is currently doing its Christmas shopping in March because the House has sabotaged the areas where there is agreement by making demands where there is none.

If House Democrats truly believe the public is on their side when it comes to instituting an income tax and raising taxes on oil, by all means run 51 state races next year on that platform and see how that goes.

The Democrats have a twisted idea of what compromise means. To them it means “give us everything we want or we’ll kill the deal.” An actual compromise would be both sides setting aside what they can’t get and taking what they both want.

For the state budget situation, a sustainable draw on the Permanent Fund earnings and an end to cashable credits are both huge accomplishments for which both sides could take credit.

But the Democrats would apparently rather keep accruing cash liabilities of $1 million per day in their attempt to squeeze $50 million out of the oil industry, and use the CBR instead of the Fund earnings because they can’t have an income tax.

The Democrats’ tax proposals would make the current recession worse, and their refusal to act on the areas of agreement are doing the same to the state budget.

Senate Republicans can run circles around the House Majority all day. It’s time for Walker to step up and tell the Democrats to stop wasting everyone’s time and money.

Andrew Jensen can be reached at andrew.jensen@alaskajournal.com.

Updated: 
07/13/2017 - 12:16pm

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