Fourth special session to begin on Oct. 23

Alaska legislators will convene in Juneau on Oct. 23 for a fourth special session, to address revenue and public safety issues.

On the agenda are Senate Bill 54, addressing Class C felonies, and a bill to enact a flat wage tax.

The Walker administration is proposing a payroll tax of 1.5 percent on wages earned by Alaskans and non-resident workers, capped at $2,200 or twice the previous year’s Alaska Permanent Fund dividend- whichever is higher. That would mean that a person earning $50,000 would pay $750 in payroll taxes.

If approved the proposed is expected to generate between $300 million and $325 million, about 15 percent of which is projected to come from non-resident workers, who in 2015 earned more than $2.7 billion. Under this proposal, Alaskans would pay the lowest taxes on a nationwide basis. No other state currently has a cap for a maximum tax rate.

Gov. Bill Walker issued the proclamation convening the 30th Alaska State Legislature on Oct. 23, noting that his team has been meeting with majority and minority members of both the House and Senate for the past several months.

“We have cut more than 44 percent from state spending over the past four years, and drawn more than $14 billion from savings,” Walker said. “We will continue to find efficiencies. With the downturn in oil prices, however, it’s clear that we must find a new source of revenue to pay for troopers, teachers, transportation and other essential services. “We must end the uncertainty for a healthy economy,” he said.

Since 2014, the Walker administration and legislators have cut state spending by $1.7 billion.