Fiscal forum invites Juneau to have its say on budget

Pat Pitney, State Budget Director for Gov. Bill Walker, speaks about the state's fiscal future to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce on July 16.

If you’ve ever said that you could do a better job in your sleep than the Alaska Legislature does, a handful of Juneauites have an event for you.

 

You’ll just have to stay awake for it.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Centennial Hall will host the Juneau Forum on Alaska’s Fiscal Future.

One of a series of forums held across Alaska, the event gathers experts to explain the multibillion-dollar gap in the state budget and collects ideas from Alaskans about what to do about it.

The event runs 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, and child care will be available.

Pat Pitney, the director of the state’s Office of Management and Budget, will open the meeting by outlining the state’s situation.

An expert panel including Jim Calvin, Larry Persily, Gregg Erickson and Brad Keithley will break down the state’s side of things and explain the impact of the budget situation on Juneau and Southeast.

The expert panel and state representatives will then be questioned by a community panel, and Juneau’s delegation to the Alaska Legislature will round out the meeting by presenting their prognosis of the situation.

Due to the decline in oil prices, the state budget is facing a gap of $3.5 billion to $4 billion between its revenue and expenditures. That gap is being filled by the state’s savings accounts, but that money is expected to run out before decade’s end.

Various schemes have been proposed to reduce or eliminate the gap, including a state income tax, further cuts to state services or a state sales tax.

Earlier this year, the state invited Alaska residents to attend a fiscal forum at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. That event has been followed by smaller events across the state, including Wednesday’s in Juneau.

About the panelists

• Jim Calvin is managing principal with the McDowell Group, which specializes in socioeconomic impact analysis.

• Larry Persily spent five years as the federal coordinator for Alaska North Slope natural gas pipeline projects and is now working for the Kenai Peninsula Borough on oil and gas and fiscal issues.

• Gregg Erickson is an economist with a deep involvement with the Alaska Permanent Fund and oil and gas tax issues.

• Brad Keithley is president of Keithley Consulting, LLC, focusing on oil, gas and fiscal policy matters.

 

What to expect

• 6-6:10 p.m. — Welcome and introduction by Craig Dahl.

• 6:15-7 p.m. — Presentation of the state’s fiscal situation by OMB director Pat Pitney.

• 7:05-7:45 p.m. — Expert panel analysis of state approach and alternatives.

• 7:45-8 p.m. — Break.

• 8-8:35 p.m. — Expert panel and state presenters take questions from community panel (Lauren MacVay, Richard Peterson, Aurah Landau and Pat Race), moderated by Bruce Botelho.

• 8:40-9 p.m. — Juneau legislative delegation offer their prognosis (moderated by John Pugh).

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