Co-Chair (and Chugach Electric Association, Inc. General Counsel) Mark Johnson and I closed the books yesterday on another exceptional two-day conference on “Energy in Alaska” (retitled this year, “Energy Markets and Regulation in Alaska”) put on annually by Law Seminars International. We have been co-chairing the seminar since … well I am not quite sure I can recall.
As we shuffled the deck a bit in light of the election and other recent events, I ended up giving a set of remarks focused on Alaska’s current fiscal situation, which incorporated for the first time a look at the “work in progress” FY 2016 budget prepared by the Parnell Administration and transferred to Governor Walker’s Administration as part of the transition. That proposed budget, and what the Walker Administration has to say about it, is available here.
My presentation is above. My comments on the “work in progress” budget are at slide 10.
The conference always results in great discussions with serious people during the breaks and after each day’s set of presentations are completed. This year’s was no exception.
At the reception following the first day’s events I appreciated the opportunity to explore in detail each of the five options for closing this year’s budget gap. They are, in no particular order — cuts in spending, use of remaining savings, “raiding the PFD” (either directly or indirectly by spending from one of the accounts used in the calculation of the PFD), income taxes, sales taxes and transfer of increased responsibility (and cost) for government services to local government.
At the conclusion I came to realize that a realistic solution to “where we are headed” necessarily will involve all five. I will be writing — and talking — about that more in the coming weeks.