For decades, Alaska has relied on oil to pay its bills. In recent years, up to 90 percent of state spending came from oil revenue. With crude prices at a 12-year low, the state faces at least a $3.5 billion deficit — or two-thirds of its budget.
Lawmakers gathering in Juneau on Tuesday face some unpopular choices, including the first income tax in decades.
To understand why Alaska has a budget problem, stop by any gas station. In Anchorage, gas sells for $2.30 a gallon. A year and a half ago, people here were shelling out more than $4 a gallon. And that's the problem.