Alaska's Annual Financial Report Is Late, and the Governor Has an Excuse

by | December 17, 2015

By Nathaniel Herz

The administration of Gov. Bill Walker missed a legal deadline Tuesday to file the state's annual financial report, and it blames a new accounting rule for the problem.

The new rule from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board requires improved disclosure of state and local government entities' pension obligations. In a Tuesday letter to legislative leaders, Administration Commissioner Sheldon Fischer said problems with the rule's implementation had kept his department from finishing the state's comprehensive annual financial report, or CAFR, by a Dec. 15 deadline.

The problems stem from a question about how the unpaid pension bills are distributed between the state and other participants in Alaska's pension system, like school districts and municipalities, John Boucher, a deputy commissioner of administration, said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Additional problems producing the financial report stemmed from the state's recent switch to a new electronic financial system.

Walker's administration has been grappling with a state fiscal crisis and a $3.5 billion budget deficit. There's no timeline for completion of the annual financial report, but another deputy administration commissioner, Leslie Ridle, said in a prepared statement that her department aims to finish the document by the time the Legislature convenes in mid-January.

The reports are detailed, lengthy documents produced annually -- last year's was 316 pages, and it cost $17.98 to print each copy, according to a disclosure on its front page.

It includes financial and budget statements, information about debt and revenue, and demographic and economic profiles.

(c)2015 the Alaska Dispatch News (Anchorage, Alaska)