The precipitous drop in oil prices has created an unimaginably large $3.5 billion “deficit” in the $6 billion state budget. So far we’re trying to cope through moderate spending cuts and huge draws on the $10 billion in the Constitutional Budget Reserve. But at a spend rate of $10 million a day, the CBR won’t last long before we’re looking over the fiscal cliff.

New sources of revenue like an income tax or diversion of the Permanent Fund dividend would extend the life of the CBR and help maintain necessary public services. But there is little interest in undertaking a contentious discussion of new revenues while we still have cash in the CBR, and hope springs eternal that we’ll be lucky and the price of oil will bounce back up higher than ever and save us -- again...

Scott Goldsmith

During summer in 2014, when school was out, I woke up from my phone ringing; it was my dad, telling me he had talked to my auntie.

“Do you want to go to Anchorage for the summer and have a personal trainer?” he asked.

“Yes!” I answered.

I started to count down days until I went. Eventually I started getting nervous, so I spent time with my family and then several days with my nephew and my closest friend, Helen. I was getting sad to leave home for almost three months. I was especially sad not being able to see my nephew and being with my friends and not having the freedom I enjoy in Kotzebue...

Chloe Naylor
Education funding must be priority No. 1 for Legislature

I am a lifelong Alaskan, graduate of public schools in Fairbanks, and ASD parent and educator. I count myself among the thousands of parents and voters who are appalled at the proposed cuts to education coming from Juneau. Funding the education of our future citizens is the constitutional duty of our legislators. Doing so without compromising the integrity of our school system is imperative...

Alaska Dispatch News

Our lone congressman, Don Young, recently introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to reauthorize our federal fisheries management law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The law is the foundation of sustainable fisheries management, and bears the names and legacy of legendary Sen. Ted Stevens and Sen. Warren Magnuson. Young’s proposed legislation unwinds the important work the senators did to ensure the long-term sustainability of our fisheries...

Stosh Anderson

Former Alaska Board of Fisheries chairman Karl Johnstone wrote an opinion published by Alaska Dispatch News March 31 that Anchorage was going to be disenfranchised from representation on the BOF. With due respect to the former chair, and acknowledgment that he and members of the BOF give time and hard work to their duties, Johnstone’s commentary misunderstands the Legislature’s policy basis for BOF membership.

Article 8 of Alaska’s Constitution provides that our state’s fish are reserved to the people for common use, and that they are to be used, developed and maintained on a sustained yield basis, subject to preferences among beneficial uses...

Bruce Weyrauch

When the Legislature finishes its work on the state budget, Alaskans may be in for a shock. Spending is being cut, sharply. The effects will be felt though all state agencies and even schools, which have been under pressure for several years anyway.

What’s driving this is the collapse of oil prices, which provide up to 90 percent of state general fund revenue. Will oil prices turn up? Who knows? Those intrepid shale oil producers in Texas and North Dakota, the source of a good bit of that new oil supply, are showing themselves amazingly resilient and adept at cutting costs to survive. U.S. oil production is booming...

Tim Bradner

Last November, Alaskans voted to support the legalization and commercialization of marijuana, following the example of Colorado and Washington. The campaign supporting that ballot measure was the "campaign to regulate marijuana like alcohol.”

House Bill 75 is one of the marijuana bills under consideration by the Legislature that seeks to do that — at least to the extent practicable and consistent with how our municipalities manage alcohol establishments and the various licenses under Title 4 (alcohol).

HB 75 is a work product of the House Community and Regional Affairs and Judiciary Committees, more than a dozen municipal attorneys throughout Alaska and attorneys for the Marijuana Policy Project — the group that drafted the initiative language...

Rep. Cathy Tilton

It was a great day to go out ATV riding.

I was hanging out at my family’s home in a remote part of northern Idaho, some 50 miles from a small town of about 2,400 residents called St. Marries. According to the website atvsafety.gov, in 2011 there were 107,500 reported all-terrain vehicle accidents with injuries severe enough to require hospitalization. I had no idea on that day that my good friend would become one of those national statistics...

Ford Harrison Humphreys
Box scores online? No way

It is with shock and despair that I learned today that you will no longer provide major league baseball box scores in your print edition. One of the many joys in these days of ongoing global dysfunction is to sit with a cup of coffee of a morning, perusing the previous day’s box scores and reliving, if only vicariously, our national pastime’s previous day’s struggles and triumphs.

Please, please, please don’t make me do this online, it just ain’t the same. Respectfully and disappointedly,

— Gil Dickie, M.D. Anchorage...

Alaska Dispatch News

Economic disaster seems all but certain for Alaska. No, it’s not a disaster that oil prices may stay down for a few years. The disaster is that we are stuck with a political system that can’t fix the problem. The fix includes bringing Alaska’s tax structure back to at least the level that prevailed prior to oil moving in and taking oil taxes up to a normative level such as the North Sea tariffs. Modest adjustments in savings accounts should do the rest...

John Havelock