Gov. Bill Walker told lawmakers opposed to his compromise proposal to resolve the state’s budget crisis that they should produce their own compromise ideas.
“It may not be a perfect compromise,” Walker said on Tuesday. “It’s the only compromise that’s on the table. I would welcome other compromises coming forth. I submitted a compromise because I didn’t see one.”
Walker, an independent, supported a Senate proposal to draw money from the Permanent Fund earnings to pay for state government. He also backed the Senate plan to cut Permanent Fund dividends to $1,000. And he backed a Senate bill to overhaul oil and gas tax credits.
But Walker endorsed the House plans for the budget. He also supported a so-called “head tax” that would require workers in Alaska to pay one of five tax amounts based on their incomes.
House majority leaders criticized the package – especially since it contains a deficit they say could lead to future cuts to school and other spending.
Senate President Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican, said majority senators see the package as a positive step.
“Well, the governor’s proposal was well received,” Kelly said. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to agree with everything on it. He established some goalposts that we can begin to negotiate to. “
Kelly also said lawmakers should focus on the budget first. He added that he would be comfortable spending from a state savings account known as the Constitutional Budget Reserve to close this year’s deficit.
A state government shutdown will begin on July 1 if lawmakers don’t reach a compromise.
Walker said the effect will be widespread.
He said it would affect “registration of cars, selling houses, marriage certificates, death certificates – I mean, all sorts of things that we take for granted,” he said. “I don’t think we realize sometimes all we take for granted until suddenly we look at those services not going to be available. Commercial fishing would be significantly impacted – no question about that.”
Administration officials said details of a potential government shutdown will be available later this week.
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