- Associated Press - Thursday, March 17, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Revenue Commissioner Randall Hoffbeck said Thursday that he doesn’t think a bill to reinstate a personal state income tax in Alaska will move in the Legislature this session.

Hoffbeck told the Juneau Chamber of Commerce that Gov. Bill Walker still thinks the measure is important and the administration will continue to push it. But he said it hasn’t gotten much interest from legislators so far.

The bill is one of the tax measures proposed by Walker as part of his plan to address a multibillion-dollar state budget deficit exacerbated by low oil prices. The centerpiece of Walker’s plan calls for restructuring the Alaska Permanent Fund and beefing up the fund’s earnings reserve account to allow for what the administration has called a $3.3-billion annuity from Alaska’s financial and petroleum wealth to help pay for state government.

The revenue debate is expected to heat up now that the House and Senate have passed their respective versions of the state operating budget. Legislative leaders chose to focus on the budget before deciding on any measures that would provide new or additional revenues, saying their constituents expected them to cut first.

Legislators also are working on changes to the oil and gas tax credit program and efforts to curb and contain costs within Medicaid and the criminal justice system.

Administration officials are talking with legislators in the hopes of getting the various pieces up to the House and Senate Finance committees, where they can look at them as a whole package, Hoffbeck told reporters.

Walker has said he wants to have a fiscal plan in place this year. Part of that possibly could include tax bills with delayed implementation dates or triggers based on oil prices, Hoffbeck said. If the Legislature goes that way, “we’d have to seriously step back and say, Is that good enough?” he said.

In the end, a lot will be driven by the math involved, Hoffbeck said.

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