In a few weeks, Walker will release a budget plan that will likely include both cuts and new revenues, said Pat Pitney, the director of Office of Management and Budget.
But senators made it clear that they’re not interested in new revenue, not necessarily because they don’t believe in them but because it will be an election year.
The frank discussion came at the end of an update on the budget to the Senate Finance Committee by Pitney and other state commissioners. It included a wide-ranging conversation about spending, services and the political will to implement taxes.
Sen. Lyman Hoffman, a Bethel Democrat and one of the longest-serving legislators, said he was frustrated that the deepest cuts the Senate proposed weren’t accepted by the House or Walker.
“Next year it’s going to be more difficult and close to impossible because it’s an election year,” he said. “People aren’t going to want to go that extra distance to cut the budget and they surely aren’t going to want to run for re-election on increasing revenue or tinkering or whatever you do with the permanent fund.”
As Walker and other groups have begun engaging the public on the discussion of new revenues, including the potential for an income tax or using the earnings of the Alaska Permanent Fund, the chances such proposals will make it in Juneau have been unclear.