Paul Jenkins

A deal is a deal. Remember Democrats and union bosses seeking out television cameras and microphones to plaintively argue that as legislative Republicans wrestling with a $3.5 billion state budget deficit tried to cut state worker pay raises? A deal, they huffed, is a deal. That was before their guy, Republican-cum-independent-cum-undeclared Gov. Bill Walker, ignored the GOP legislative majority’s wishes as he signed the $9.8 billion operations and capital budgets and capped $700 million in pending oil industry tax credits at $500 million He effectively vetoed $200 million Alaska owes the oil and gas industry, deferring payment until Alaska is good and ready. Walker -- apparently channeling Anchorage Democrat Les Gara, a vocal proponent of cutting tax credits, to guide tax policy...Paul Jenkins
The fallout from the murder of nine decent, innocent people by a craven lunatic in Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was too predictable. If you believed the enormity of the horrific tragedy -- its scope matched only by the awe-inspiring love, dignity and compassion of the slain churchgoers’ families -- called for serious soul searching or finding a root cause, you would be sorely disappointed. America did what America too often does. Cynical opportunism. Political grandstanding. Cheap sanctimony and exploitation fueled by ignorance. Guns and the National Rifle Associated are the problems, some said. No, the Confederate flag is the problem. Nah, it is racism among a people with it embedded in their DNA, the president said, discounting more than a century of racial...Paul Jenkins
It is hard not to chuckle when you read political satirist P.J. O’Rourke’s observation about the nation’s health care system as Bill and Hillary monkeyed with it: “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free.” He could have been talking about Obamacare or Medicaid, the latest break-the-bank effort to “fix” the system. Since 2010, Barack Obama has lied to Americans about his signature achievement -- taking the first, long step toward socialized medicine in an unending, unconstitutional game of three-card monte. Obamacare is a lie. You can keep your doctor, he said. You can keep your health plan. It will save families $2,500 a year. Costs will not increase; those in need will be able to afford health care. Any of that sound familiar? Even the...Paul Jenkins
On the heels of Gov. Bill Walker’s three-day “Building a Sustainable Future” shindig in Fairbanks to hash out details of Alaska’s fiscal problems and possible solutions, many of us are wondering when Alaskans will get around to connecting the dots. As some attendees pointed out, most of those at the gathering were older, politically involved Alaskans or members of Walker’s transition team or kibitzers representing government or education interests. They spent, if the press got it right, much time on taxes -- the left calls them “revenue options” -- to close Alaska’s budget gap. Alaska is awash in red ink because the vast majority of its unrestricted spending and about half of its economy are linked to oil prices and North Slope production. A worldwide oil glut gutted prices and production...Paul Jenkins
Watching frazzled legislators don Xtratufs and slosh around in puddles of red ink as they grapple with Alaska’s most recent budget dilemma -- Cadillac wants, Kia dough -- has lost its allure. It was amusing initially, but the comedic value is, well, kaput! The real fun is slated this weekend when members of Gov. Bill Walker’s transition team and other Alaskans arrive in Fairbanks. He invited them for a three-day budget gabfest to yak about, among other things, “revenue options.” Ah, revenue options. It sounds so innocuous, but it could mean government rooting around in your pocket. With more than a $5 billion budget and $2 billion in oil revenue, Alaska needs money to make ends meet. Now, we are using savings but those accounts will be emptier than Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard in the...Paul Jenkins
At first, off in the distance, it sounded for all the world as if the portals of Hades had cracked open and fiery souls were scrambling to daylight, splashing across the Styx, screaming in pain, howling, rending the cosmos with otherworldly shrieks and groans. But no, it was just Democratic Alaska legislators facing the grim reality that their extortion racket just might be cashing out. Here was one of them in the newspaper talking about getting a mediator or the governor -- or somebody, please God, anybody -- involved in budget negotiations because the nasty ol’ House Republicans were not playing nice and rolling over as they should. There was another one on the TV news wringing his hands, wondering why the Republican-led majority would rather risk the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend --...Paul Jenkins
Stop the presses! Those nasty ol’ Alaska Republicans are at it again, wrecking government, sowing ruin, keeping poor people down and coddling the evil oil industry -- at least that’s the agitprop peddled by Democrats and their union pals as they try to justify hijacking the legislative process for their own political ends. What the House minority Democrats want -- and cannot publicly admit -- is House GOP majority agreement to spend about $80 million in savings Alaska cannot spare on things Alaska does not really need, before they will vote to tap the Constitutional Budget Reserve and balance next year’s budget. Their laundry list contains everything from $18 million for cost-of-living raises for the state’s union employees -- but not the state’s exempt employees -- to $1.4 million for...Paul Jenkins
There was no traffic in the quiet “SoNo district” neighborhood when my truck rolled to a halt at a four-way stop the other morning. As my foot came off the brake and I started forward, there was a flash from the right, and in a nanosecond a short-haired woman on a bicycle blew into the intersection, right in front of me -- with a sneer on her face, no less -- at speed, without stopping, zipping along on the wrong side of the road. How I missed her -- or she missed me -- is anybody’s guess. Had I accelerated instead of slowly rolling into the intersection, she would have been toast. It was simple luck. I honked. She flipped me off and kept going. Ah, I thought, another in a long line of idiot bike riders. Almost everybody I know has a similar story. Or several. For me, it was not even my...Paul Jenkins
As the state stares down the barrel of perhaps a $4 billion budget deficit, it is beyond baffling that anybody -- even a liberal clinging desperately to freebie medical care as some sort of talismanic human right -- could justify adding even one person to Alaska’s Medicaid rolls, much less 40,000, as Gov. Bill Walker wants. Walker is hectoring Republican lawmakers at every turn to expand a program already plagued by fraud, abuse and lack of controls. It must be reformed simply to survive -- much less be expanded. Forget the touchy-feely nonsense the left is peddling. Alaska cannot afford Medicaid expansion. Alaska’s ever-growing program, sporting a state price tag of $700 million -- $1.5 billion when you add the federal share -- already covers about 150,000 low-income Alaskans. It has...Paul Jenkins
Turnout, if not truckloads of cash, will decide this week’s Anchorage mayoral contest. Ethan Berkowitz, former Democratic legislator, has the lion’s share. His opponent, Amy Demboski, a conservative, has an electorate that largely mirrors her views in many areas. As important is the question of who supporters of Dan Coffey and Andrew Halcro in the April 7 general election will vote for in Tuesday’s runoff. While both claimed to be Republicans -- Coffey for a few weeks, anyway -- neither has been of much help to Demboski. In fact, Coffey has been downright spiteful. Demboski teed off on him in the general election and it is time for payback. “She’s too far right, you know?” Coffey told the Alaska Dispatch News. He said he’s told his supporters: “I am not endorsing Amy. And I am not...Paul Jenkins