The first product from a newly established legislative committee was put online this week as members of the House Fiscal Policy Committee kept a commitment to try to let the public know more about state finances.
The materia; at the alaskabudget.com website goes through the basics of the state’s fiscal picture – a first look for many on where state revenue comes from, where it goes, and where money has been set aside. The committee’s legislative mandate calls on the members to – quote – “make recommendations to ensure a sound fiscal future.” Anchorage Republican Anna Fairclough – who chairs the committee — says the goal is to get as many Alaskans as possible involved in a conversation about the budget. She says the committee members are looking for feedback.
We certainly don’t want to provide scare tactics that I’ve heard, or that we’re good for the next two decades because we’ve got plenty of money in savings. That’s not the purpose. The purpose is “this is what our economy has historically been based on; let’s talk about what we want our future based on.”
She says the website was designed to avoid being partisan or to promote any individual agenda. As an example, while the site is based on a presumption of the negative effects of oil production declines, it does not promote a change in the state’s tax regime as the solution.
Anchorage Democrat Chris Tuck – a member of the special committee – says the website was designed to elevate budget discussions when the committee starts its work on trying to devise a plan for the future.
If you’re trying to come up with ideas, and people don’t really have an understanding of how it works, you’re going to be spending a lot of time bringing everybody up to speed. This is our attempt to create what we call a “meeting in the box” where anyone can take the materials, take the package, take the exercises, get a group of people together, walk them through it, and at the end, everyone will have a better understanding.
Fairclough says the committee is not scheduled to meet before the start of the next session in January. However, the material is available for the public to study and comment on immediately.