Senate President ready for special session

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) Sen. Pete Kelly, said he would support tougher penalties for certain crimes and welcomes a debate on the state's fiscal problems.

    The Republican from Fairbanks said the Senate Majority supports the special session to address crime that begins October 23, "Alaskans have legitimate concerns about our laws holding offenders accountable.  The Senate already passed the legislation, Senate Bill 54, toughening penalties for certain crimes.  We offer our support to the House to do the same."

    Kelly said Alaskans should feel safe in their homes and communities and it is incumbent upon the legislature to do its part to ensure criminals face consequences.

    Kelly showed no immediate support for the Governor's idea for a 1.5 percent state income tax.  He said the budget problems are best addressed by spending reductions.  "We asked the administration, before new taxes on working Alaskans are considered, to provide a budget for the coming fiscal year that includes reductions in spending, and a revised revenue forecast with responsible estimates for oil prices and production."

    Kelly said without that information the Senate can't accurately determine what, if any, measures need to be taken to raise additional revenue, "We want to make it clear that any complete plan to address our fiscal problem cannot solely reach into Alaskans' pockets for more government money, but must include budget reductions.  Government must do its part."

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