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Gov. Bill Walker wisely introduced Alaskans to some of the grim realities of their future with his budget message of cuts, even in the sacred area of education where cuts mean increased social and economic liabilities down the road. But where were the tax increases? Put off for a year means a shorter political process in which the enemies of taxes, and they are many, can more successfully use the weapon of delay in our two-year legislative term.

Maybe he can deliver a general revenue address in due course including the required revision of oil and gas taxation still in the works...

John Havelock

Alaska has one of the most generous self-defense statutes in the country. According to our laws, you can kill someone who has threatened you with deadly force even if you could otherwise get away without further incident. There is no duty to retreat, not just at home but in any place you have a legal right to be. But if you’re not a police officer, do you know where you will end up if you kill someone in self-defense? On trial for murder...

Marcelle McDannel
Take action: Reduce halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea

I am a young commercial fisherman. I look to the future in the hopes that my livelihood will sustain me, my community and the generations to come. I write to you to take action in reducing halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea...

Alaska Dispatch News

Grab a pencil and jot down three political topics that are not impacted by your religious beliefs. Choose carefully. If you do this in a group setting as I have, you’ll notice a rare thing: zero consensus. There is no one political topic that we could all agree on as having no religious or moral implications.

This is one reason (among many) that it is important to be sure that our system of law remains independent from any one particular ideology. People of faith have every right to voice their views of morality and ethics, to speak truth to power. Indeed, it is our responsibility as citizens to voice our views on matters of social justice and concern for those in need, for as Augustine said, “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld."...

Rev. Matt Schultz

It is known the U.S. has approximately 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of its prisoners. Recently the Pew Research Center reported Alaska having the highest rate of inmate recidivism of all 50 states, with nearly two-thirds of those released re-incarcerated within a mere 36 months. If "correction" indeed occurred by way of Alaska's Department of Corrections, recidivists would be rare...

H. Thompson Prentzel III
Prisoners should live like the poor, not in Taj Mahal jails

I heard the other day, that the state needed more jails. Wow. I would like to recommend to our big money spenders, legislators, building contractors, lobbyists, and all the others who will benefit from the construction the following: Jails do not have to be built to better specifications than the worst structures poor people live in, like some huge Quonset-style buildings. They are roomy; with insulation, they are as warm as the Taj Mahals, which have been built around the state and better than most jailbirds now live in; they would feel right at home. Just my wee mind working overtime. — Paul D. Morrison Kenai...

Alaska Dispatch News

I really like "Buy Local" campaigns. I liked it when, in his State of the State speech, Gov. Bill Walker talked about supporting our local small businesses every chance we can because goodness knows those businesses are the ones that support our local youth sports programs. I listened to a radio broadcast this week updating folks on the fundraiser at the Chapman School in Anchor Point. A young girl and her mother were both injured badly on Christmas Day in a car accident. The girl lost both her legs. She's 11 years old. So many local businesses had donated to the cause of helping their family with their financial burdens. This concept isn't really new for me. We take care of our own. About 10 years ago I was on a flight to my grandmother's funeral....

Shannyn Moore

Our budget deficit today is a result of low oil prices, low oil production and overspending, not oil tax reform.

A group of Native leaders, unions, businessmen and thousands of Alaskans who care deeply about Alaska's long-term economic future led a three-year campaign to reform oil taxes to stop the decline of oil production.

We spent an additional year defending against a referendum to repeal the new law, called SB 21 (Senate Bill 21, passed in 2013). If we had not been successful, Alaska's current deficit could be substantially worse.

Here's why:...

Jim Jansen

“No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” -- Mark Twain

Readers might recall that just before Christmas state legislators told the governor how to start cutting his new administration’s budget. The advice itself was tough but not unfair. The letter seemed odd, however, coming from the Legislature, a government group whose own budget tells a different story...

Mike Bronson

If it looks like a fiscal crisis, walks like a fiscal crisis, quacks like a fiscal crisis, is it really a fiscal crisis? Or is it a downturn? Or a glitch? How about a fiscal situation? A bump in the road? Or is it any of those?

In Alaska, it depends on who is doing the looking -- and sometimes, when they are looking.

The facts are clear: A proposed Alaska budget of about $5.7 billion combined with projected revenues of $2.2 billion -- and dropping like Bill Clinton’s pants -- equals a projected deficit of somewhere between $3.5 billion and $4 billion.

The state gets 90 percent of its revenues from oil -- stable at about $110 a barrel from 2010 until the middle of last year -- and the commodity has lost half its value over the past six months...

Paul Jenkins