Republican state senators wasted no time in organizing themselves on Wednesday into a new caucus, giving themselves new titles and jobs for the upcoming legislative session and posing for the press.
You read that right: hustle from the Senate, folks.
However, a statement from the new Senate President Charlie Huggins — that the new body was a “reflection” of the voters’ wishes (read: Alaskans want Republican solutions) — is not entirely accurate.
True, voters selected more Republicans to fill seats in Juneau. But more than that, we think voters expressed their desire to see action from the Senate, a group that formerly moved like they had sandbags tied around their ankles.
To put it frankly, we think voters would like the Senate, regardless of affiliation, to move a little more like a thoroughbred and less like a pack mule.
That’s not to say these decisions we face — oil tax reform, gas pipeline, serious budget reductions — should be hastily considered. Rather, we’d just like to see them get past the hemming and hawing stage for once.
While most of the Senate is now comprised of Republicans and we’ve scrapped the coalition idea, perhaps we can get to some meaningful dialogue about the state’s problems, rather than just sending bills to the Senate to watch them die a slow, painful death.
So, if Huggins wants his troupe of Senators to be a reflection of voters’ desires, then they should keep with the tempo established Wednesday.
But, please remember some of you — including our local Senators Peter Micciche and Cathy Giessel — promised to work across the aisle with the Democrats and for the benefit of all constituents.
These issues are not partisan. Putting legislation in place to supply North Slope gas to the rest of Alaska as soon as possible is a long-time dream of all Alaskans. Cutting the budget a little now instead of slashing it in the future is our current Legislature’s responsibility. Adjusting oil taxes to a happy medium to allow our state to be competitive is an investment for future Alaskans.
To us, being a Republican or Democrat doesn’t have any bearing on those responsibilities. So where the bi-partisan coalition stagnated, let the new-look Senate provide some non-partisan answers. With a little giddy-up, too.
That is, Mr. Huggins, what voters really want.