Alaska editorial: Lawmakers should heed call for hearings on the road system

Posted: Friday, September 07, 2007

Take it on the road, lawmakers. Share a little, Juneau.

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Gov. Sarah Palin has called the special session on oil taxes for Juneau, despite being inclined to meet closer to where most Alaskans live.

She also has urged lawmakers to hold committee hearings and take public testimony on the road system.

That's a good idea, especially given the context of this special session.

This session aims to make sure that Alaska gets a fair return on the oil wealth that Alaskans own. This session is necessary to restore Alaskans' faith that their government can do that job with honesty and competence. The current tax regime carries the baggage of the current corruption scandal. This session must clear the air.

On Tuesday, Palin stressed the message that the oil is ours. So is the government. That's why as many Alaskans as possible should have as good a look as possible at the work of the administration and lawmakers. While the Legislature will convene in Juneau, there's no reason that committee meetings can't be held in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kenai, Wasilla and/or Palmer.

Palin's proposal will no doubt drive the session, and her tax bill likely won't be ready until early October. But she and Revenue Commissioner Pat Galvin on Tuesday outlined the highlights of their proposal. There's substance to debate now, and to compare with the other tax revisions in the works.

Palin knows that her first job is not an oil tax proposal, as important as that is. Her first job is to restore Alaskans' trust in their government. That's the first job of lawmakers too. And that's better done face to face.

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