‘The first step is admitting that a problem exists’: Alaska’s leaders agree on state’s fiscal condition

‘The first step is admitting that a problem exists’: Alaska’s leaders agree on state’s fiscal condition
Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 10:39 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy and legislative leaders say there’s a need for a long-term fiscal plan for the state, but are uncertain how to reach that goal.

At a press conference held Thursday, the governor and members of the legislature could agree on only one thing — they are united in acknowledging that Alaska has a fiscal problem that has to be fixed.

“We are not here today to make an announcement that we have agreed upon a whole host of issues or a complete plan,” Dunleavy said. “But what we are here to tell you is that the scuttlebutt that you’ve been hearing, the discussions you’ve been hearing, has all been part and parcel of trying to get to this point.”

Several members of the Alaska Legislature also spoke at the press conference, each admitting there is a financial problem and their readiness to solve it.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski believes that Alaska can’t keep going down the path it is on.

“The first step is admitting that a problem exists. I think this was a statement by people from all across the political spectrum in both bodies that we’ve got a fiscal problem. We have got to do something to fix it,” Wielechowski said.

“This just sucks the oxygen out of the room every single year and we end up not doing many other things,” Sen. Mike Shower said. “I think the people of Alaska are tired of it as well, and I think they want to see us solve it and get it over with.”

During the news conference, the governor also ran through some different scenarios to demonstrate the need for a fiscal plan based on various fluctuating components including oil price sensitivity, the PFD and the value of other extracted resources.

“I think we’re all very positive about working together to try to solve this solution because this has got to be an Alaskan solution. It just can’t be one caucus or one or the body or the governor,” Dunleavy said.

With less than three weeks remaining in the session, legislators may have to organize a special session to resolve the state budget.