On July 10, 2017, Alaska Dispatch News printed Mark Begich's opinion piece, "Alaska's budget patch isn't enough." By providing space for his early bid for governor and given that the ADN has endorsed Begich in the past for various campaigns, are they telling Alaskans who they will support in the 2018 gubernatorial race?
The people of Alaska must ask themselves several important questions as they consider who to elect for governor in 2018. Is a candidate who the ADN has endorsed in the past the best person to lead the state? Does the record of Mark Begich even reflect the values and policies that the people of Alaska support? Most importantly, which candidate has a long-range fiscal plan that protects Alaska families and creates a state government that is sustainable into the future?
Alaskans don't need a very long memory to answer the first question. During the 2014 gubernatorial race, it appeared that Bill Walker was the candidate supported by the ADN. Countless man-hours and numerous articles were devoted to criticizing Gov. Sean Parnell's knowledge and involvement in the Alaska National Guard scandal. Once the election was over, the stories disappeared. The candidate the ADN promoted was elected, but he was clearly not the best choice. A review of Gov. Walker's record shows millions of dollars spent on a gas pipeline that is not economically viable, a partial veto of the Permanent Fund dividend in 2016, and a 2017 budget that reduces the PFD once again without any substantive spending cuts.
The answer to the second question is just as obvious. Mark Begich has a long record of decisions that have been devastating to the people of Alaska. At the conclusion of his term as mayor of Anchorage, he left the city millions of dollars in debt because of poorly negotiated contracts with public employee unions. On the national level, he cast the 60th vote resulting in the passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and voted continually in lockstep with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to support the policies of President Obama even though they were detrimental to our state's economy, values and way of life.
Sen. Begich's hope for Alaska's future is extremely concerning and a quote from his commentary is quite revealing. He wrote, "I applaud the Bipartisan Coalition in the State House as they tried to bring forward a long-term budget plan …" If we take him at his word, Sen. Begich applauds the House's restructuring of the Permanent Fund dividend program that reduces the income of the average Alaska family by 10 percent. He applauds the House's idea of an income tax that takes $700 million out of the private economy. He also applauds an increase in government spending that satisfies special interest groups at the expense of the Alaska people.
What is painfully obvious is that both the Walker and Begich approach to solving Alaska's temporary fiscal issue show a glaring lack of faith in Alaska's future. Both believe you solve our current fiscal problems by taking money from the citizens of Alaska through an income tax and PFD grab and giving it to government. Their approach ignores Alaska's enormous potential to fix our fiscal imbalance by unleashing new wealth through responsible resource development.
In his column Sen. Begich is calling for a leader with a vision for a long-range fiscal plan. I happen to agree with him and believe I have that vision. I have put forth a plan that balances the budget over a period of four years with no new taxes and does not require any restructuring of the current PFD. Importantly, it also includes a constitutional appropriation limit that caps state spending. This spending cap gives Alaskans, not politicians, the power to limit the future scope and size of government. Finally, the solutions I put forward will capitalize on Alaska's vast resources that currently remain untapped to create new money and not just circulate old money by stealing from Peter to pay Paul.
The people of Alaska will be making many important decisions over the next two years, including who they will elect as their next governor. I have presented a vision that protects the private sector and grows the economy during these difficult economic times. Most importantly, my vision does not put the demands of special interest groups first. My vision puts the Alaska people first. The future for Alaska is incredibly bright, but only if the right people are in a position to help make it happen.
Sen. Mike Dunleavy represents Senate District E, the Mat-Su and Copper River areas. He has served in the Senate since 2013. He is running for the 2018 Republican nomination for governor.
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