Governor’s Letter to Legislature Draws Rise from Leadership

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

Tuesday, Governor Sean Parnell put more distance between himself and the Senate Majority – making it less likely there will be a quick resolution to the impasse that led to the current special session.

In a letter to the House and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders – that was soon widely distributed throughout the capitol – the governor put the blame for the special session directly on what he called “the Senate’s departure from standard legislative budget practices.”   He also referred to the Senate’s concerns that he will veto capital projects in their districts based on their support of the oil tax cuts that failed to pass this year.  However, he took no steps to relieve those concerns.

Senate Finance Co-Chairman Bert Stedman said before seeing the letter he thought talks were going forward toward a resolution, but now he has to wonder if they are further apart.

“I think firing off letters like that is like throwing a bomb down a chimney.   It’s not exactly like getting things settled down and moving forward.  No matter how big an explosion it is, you still have to move forward to do the public business,” Stedman said.

Referring to the veto threats linked to legislation cutting the tax on oil,  Anchorage Democrat Les Gara said today’s letter was not useful.

“We could move ahead by leaps and bounds if the governor would make clear that the veto threat doesn’t exist,  that he will not look particularly at those people who did not support his oil tax legislation.  I think that will help us get out of here faster,  but I don’t think today’s letter helped at all,” Gara said.

Stedman says the Office and Management and Budget as well as the House Finance Committee have all the documentation necessary for them to review the projects listed in the capital budget.

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