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Special session shows no sign of quick end

Senate, governor harden positions despite compromise suggestions

Posted: April 21, 2011 - 10:02pm  |  Updated: April 22, 2011 - 7:31am

Senate leaders are blaming Gov. Sean Parnell’s veto threats based on his support for oil tax reductions for the budget stalemate that led to the ongoing special legislative session, but Parnell is showing no signs of being wiling to compromise.

A Thursday letter from Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, Senate Majority Leader Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, and most of the members of the majority caucus said Parnell caused the stalemate.

“A large part of the current stalemate is the result of your connecting support of the oil tax cuts contained in House Bill 110 and Senate Bill 49 with the Capital Budget,” the letter said.

Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, is a member of the bipartisan coalition and signed the letter.

The governor’s position was “aggressive,” according to the letter.

“You have explicitly indicated that budget vetoes would occur if oil tax cuts were not passed,” the letter said.

Stevens and the others said the Senate is instead undertaking a careful look at the state’s oil tax structure, including “Alaska’s generous tax credits” and would continue to do so.

The letter proposed a way out of the stalemate, in which the Senate would agree to removal of provisions that are aimed at circumventing Parnell’s line-item veto power, and in exchange Parnell would “maintain the integrity of the energy project list.”

Senators have expressed concerns Parnell would veto projects in the districts of legislators who did not vote for the oil tax cuts.

In a response from Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow, the governor shifted blame back to the Senate.

“The governor has noted that day 94 of the session has come and gone without the Senate passing its capital budget,” Leighow said.

“The Senate Majority should finish the job the public sent them to do,” Leighow continued.

The Senate’s letter Thursday follows a Parnell letter earlier in the week blaming the Senate for the delay, and siding with the House of Representatives, which has approved the oil tax cuts.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 586-4816 or at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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