The Latest: Oil, gas industry group head: Important for stable fiscal policies in Alaska

JUNEAU, Alaska – The latest on Alaska Gov. Bill Walker’s budget proposal (all times local):

4:35 p.m.

The president of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association says it’s important to the industry that the state has competitive, stable and predictable fiscal policies.

In a statement, Kara Moriarty says increasing taxes and removing important incentives won’t lead to more oil production.

Gov. Bill Walker is proposing an increase in the minimum floor for oil and gas production taxes and changing the oil tax credit program. That’s part of an overall budget plan that includes tax increases for other industries and a state income tax.

Credits have become a major item in the state budget.

Walker says the state wants to continue encouraging production and isn’t trying to send a message to the industry other than we’re all in this together.


3:30 p.m.

Some Democratic state legislators say Gov. Bill Walker’s budget plan would hit working-class Alaskans especially hard.

Senate Minority Leader Berta Gardner says she agrees with Walker’s sense of urgency to make a sustainable budget plan. But she says the plan he released Wednesday, which includes an income tax and a reduced annual dividend check, isn’t equitable.

She and Sen. Bill Wielechowski, a fellow Anchorage Democrat, would like to see further changes to the state’s oil tax and credit system.

Meanwhile, Senate Republican leaders called for further budget cuts before increasing taxes on Alaskans.

Walker’s plan includes a range of tax increases and budget cuts, though some Republican leaders would like to see cuts deeper than Walker has proposed. The Republican-turned-independent governor also recommended some oil tax and credit changes.


3 p.m.

A Republican House leader says he doesn’t want to ask Alaskans to pay an income tax unless it’s absolutely necessary.

In a release, House Finance Committee co-chair Steve Thompson of Fairbanks says there’s still room in the budget for more cuts, a view echoed by his co-chair, Big Lake Rep. Mark Neuman.

Gov. Bill Walker’s budget plan includes an income tax to help plug Alaska’s multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

The centerpiece of Walker’s plan is using the fund that provides annual checks to most Alaskans to generate a stream of cash for state government rather than relying on the year-to-year volatility of oil. The plan also includes budget cuts.

Neuman says Walker deserves credit for proposing some difficult options and he intends to evaluate each one and present them to the public.


12 p.m.

Gov. Bill Walker warns that Alaska’s popular dividend program is in danger of ending if no steps are taken to address the state’s multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

Walker laid out a budget plan Wednesday in Anchorage that calls for using the fund that provides annual checks to most Alaskans to generate a stream of cash for state government. His plan would mean a check next year that’s about $1,000 less than this year’s.

However, if the state keeps drawing down its savings like it is and makes no changes, Walker says the dividend would end in 2020.

Walker’s plan also includes an income tax and more budget cuts.

He says he hopes Alaskans realize the severity of the situation and he’s happy to take any heat associated with his plan.


11 a.m.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker is proposing reinstituting a state income tax for the first time in 35 years as Alaska struggles with a multibillion-dollar budget deficit amid chronically low oil prices.

His proposal includes budget cuts, increases in various taxes and using the fund that provides annual checks to most Alaskan to generate a stream of cash for state government. His plan would change how dividends are calculated, and mean a check next year that’s about $1,000 less than this year’s.

The independent Tax Foundation says Alaska is one of seven states without a personal income tax. It hasn’t had such a tax since lawmakers repealed the last one in 1980.

The oil-dependent state has been using savings to help balance its budget. Officials have been warned the state’s bond rating could be lowered if it doesn’t do more to address the deficit.