Big Money, Big Government and Big Influence are desperate for the Legislature to pitchfork Permanent Fund earnings into Alaska’s nearly $4 billion budget abyss and they are engaged in a full-court press to dupe lawmakers into seeing it their way -- and right now. The governor, KTUU reports, has spent $100,000 for lobbyists -- hey, aren’t we broke? -- to hustle the notion of using the fund’s earnings. GCI's president and CEO, Ron Duncan, has rounded up large Alaska businesses, unions, a former governor, Native corporation executives and others in a strange coalition -- "Alaska’s Future" -- to push using the earnings. Most involved, it is safe to say, receive dough from the state, have people working for government or depend on a healthy economy to invest or make a profit. If they succeed...Paul Jenkins
Every once in a while, something comes along that is so big, so monumentally important that it draws people together who come from viewpoints that usually couldn’t be further apart. Now is one of those times in Alaska’s history. We are the CEO of one of Alaska’s largest corporations and the president of the state’s largest labor organization. In fact, not so long ago, we squared off on opposite sides of a major union organizing campaign. So what is this issue that has brought us unlikely allies together? It is the state’s current $3.8 billion budget deficit, which inches closer to $4 billion every day as oil prices continue to plummet. This is about saving jobs. This is about saving the state, preserving its credit rating, and solving a budget crisis that threatens to destroy our economy...Ron Duncan,Vince Beltrami
The crocuses had pushed through the strip of light-green grass next to the front steps of the Capitol and the smell of spring was in the Juneau air. A gloomy morning portending afternoon rain was giving way to broken clouds and sunshine as noon approached, and dozens of state workers hastily made their way from nearby offices to the Capitol entrance. They were gathering, under public employee union leadership, for a lunch-hour demonstration. Their cause was as perennial as spring itself -- wage increases legislators promised them but had not delivered. A noon demo while lawmakers and the governor passed out of the Capitol would provide the workers with an opportunity to voice their demands to those holding the keys of the treasury. A hundred or more employees and a few family members...Michael Carey
Vic Fischer’s wife convinced him that as a young man, a recent immigrant and a newcomer to politics, he needed to campaign for election by going door to door, an idea that made him quite uncomfortable. Screwing up his courage, Fischer drove from Anchorage to the Matanuska Valley, a part of his district where he might have weak support. He walked up to a house, but chickened out and didn’t knock. At the next door, a woman came out who didn’t know there was an election. She listened politely. Then Fischer got back in the car and drove home to Anchorage. Fortunately, it was enough. Fischer was elected as a delegate to the Alaska Constitutional Convention. Sixty years ago today, the convention was wrapping up in Fairbanks. The anniversary of the signing will be Friday. Fischer’s part in the...Charles Wohlforth
Wielechowski should get real Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski wants an attorney general investigation into potential antitrust issues and price gouging by Tesoro. The governor has already said no but Bill is pressing the issue. Bill needs to pick up a phone and call the refinery manager and ask what’s going on with the price of gasoline before wasting any more time on this political grandstanding. Wielechowski also needs to get his 2008 law prohibiting DMV from spending any money on a Real ID rescinded immediately. People aren’t going to be real happy come October if they can’t get on an airplane because the senator thinks the IDs are federal overreach, and it’s preposterous to think they won’t let Alaskans on an airplane without one. I don’t want to rely on this guy’s opinion. — Mike...Alaska Dispatch News
I just returned from Juneau and the opening days of the 2016 legislative session. I've been in the capital quite bit over my career, and I was struck this time by a sentiment shared by legislators from both sides of the aisle. Despite the dire fiscal times our state officials are charged with navigating, there is a sense of mutual responsibility and hope that this is the year for Alaska to finally tackle its fiscal challenges. Certainly there are differing strategies to right Alaska's fiscal ship, but the state's private sector employers and the Alaska Chamber have advocated for sustainable state spending for years. I was pleased to see that feeling echoed in the governor's State of the State address. Uncertainty of the state’s financial future harms Alaska families and businesses. It has...Curtis Thayer
Oil and gas economics drive Alaska. Residents, politicians, activists and the media follow the oil and gas markets very closely and for good reasons. What most people don't follow is the connection between the price of oil and recycling markets, and what it means for our community. Falling oil prices and the correlated drop in the cost of energy coupled with a downturn in the Chinese economy and a recent crackdown on accepting contaminated materials have caused a storm for the recycling industry. Some manufacturers are seeing that it’s cheaper to use virgin materials than recycled materials. This is an issue. Recycling is a service that simultaneously benefits residents of Anchorage and the environment. Removing nonorganic, recyclable material from the waste stream expands the lifespan of...Travis Smith,Mary Fisher
Proud to put trust in us In regards to the Jan. 28 ADN letter, headlined ran: “Police cars need God’s trust:” The “in God we trust” statement is, thankfully, not on APD cars because of that separation of church and state thing in the First Amendment to our Constitution. Gods, ghosts, fairies, Santas, unicorns and other flying horses are not real. They are made up and/or imagined by people. Science, logic, and careful examination of evidence have allowed us to understand that the references to supernatural matters in religious books are simply untrue. We are real. If we need trust, we should try to trust us. We should try to be good to each other. — Dave Carter Anchorage Don’t feed the bears in Juneau Alaska’s lawmakers should look for more ways to generate revenue other than Big Oil. Once...Alaska Dispatch News
If there's one thing we've learned in Alaska over the past year and a half, it's that we can count on oil prices to change. I say that before daring to mention that if by some chance oil stays near $30 or $35 a barrel for the next couple of years, we could reach an unprecedented moment in modern Alaska history — net revenues from oil could drop to zero or close to it. This week the world price jumped a bit on rumors that Russia and Saudi Arabia might conspire to trim production, desperate as they are for more cash. Alaskans recognize the dilemma and the desire for more dollars per barrel, living in one of the most heavily oil-dependent regions in the world. While the oft-repeated claim that we rely on oil for "90 percent of the state budget" has been out of date for years, that is mainly...Dermot Cole
Not a day goes by without Alaska’s fiscal problems making the news. Whether it's cuts to public services, talk of new revenues or a downgrade of the state’s creditworthiness, it’s hard to escape the numbers. With 737,000 people spread over 663,000 square miles, sub-$30 oil and a pipeline that is 75 percent empty, the numbers just don’t add up like they used to do. It’s good that Alaskans and our elected leaders are talking about the state’s fiscal problems. It would also be good if everyone could separate the myths from the facts as Alaskans look for the best answers. Myth: Higher oil prices and/or more oil production will arrive in time to save us. Fact: Oil prices would have to almost quadruple to fill the $3.5 billion budget gap, or production would have to more than triple. Today’s...Diane Kaplan