The last time Democrats controlled the Alaska State House, Wally Hickel was governor, Bill Clinton was just elected president and the faux Alaskan show Northern Exposure was still pulling a 15 share on Neilson. Been a long time baby.
After a 2016 election that featured competing independent expenditure groups and a few odd political bedfellows, House Democrats now hold the chamber for the first time since 1992. With the state on track to burn through its existing savings in just a few years due to a yawning budget gap, many new faces in the house majority were elected based on their promise to work across party lines to find a solution to the fiscal crisis.
Five things to watch:
- How quickly freshmen members get their Juneau feet.
(5 of 22 are newbies and this is baptism by fire)
- How fast they lay out a schedule to begin fiscal policy conversations.
(90 day limit on session and we’re talking taxes and stuff people)
- How fast their caucus coalesces around a plan.
(Any plan will require compromise on various moving parts i.e. taxes, fund earnings, cuts)
- How they engage the minority caucus.
(When the R’s were in charge they rolled over the minority for decades. Now D’s must decide how they’ll handle power, including having to deal from the other side of the table on the critical CBR vote.)
- How they leverage the public’s support for a comprehensive fiscal plan.
(While 90% of Alaskans want a solution to the fiscal crisis, most don’t agree on how to get there. Alaskans have come to expect government for free, meanwhile both sides of the ailse have been promising some variation of the continued free lunch. The solution has always been the same; everyone needs to feel the pain.)Photo Credit adn.com