The recall of Gov. Mike Dunleavy is a product of the Democrats’ and establishment Republicans’ desire to maintain the status quo in spending and policy in the face of reality.
When Dunleavy came into office almost two years ago, the state was in crisis. We were 50th in jobs, in public safety, in economic opportunity, jobs, and a dismal 51st in fourth-grade reading. Our education system was rated at 46th across all grades despite spending $17,000 or more per student in the Railbelt and more than $30,000 per student in the Bush. Education spending had increased 95% from 2003-2018, and the University of Alaska was graduating only 10% of those attending each year.
Most will agree that government spending is out of control, steadily driving Alaska into a crisis since 2014. Former Gov. Bill Walker attacked our Permanent Fund dividend and proposed additional taxes. He worked to maintain the growth of state government, rather than reducing spending to a sustainable level in line with revenues.
Dunleavy’s first budget was a shock to the state government’s complacency and the feel-good, remain-in-power-at-all-costs attitude of the Legislature. His budget was a reality check. He produced an almost balanced budget that was in line with revenues.
Dunleavy further intended that this budget would start a dialogue with the Legislature, resulting in a measured reduction in spending that would eventually produce a balanced budget policy. The Permanent Fund’s revenues were sufficient to maintain the individual PFD well into the future.
Dunleavy led the charge to rescind Senate Bill 91 and to restore law and order and victims’ rights in the face of that unmitigated disaster, yet Sen. Cathy Giessel restored many in the Senate who supported SB 91 to positions of leadership, including Sen. John Coghill, the architect of the misery and failure that was SB 91.
We all know that more oil is being discovered on the North Slope; that it is a matter of time before the oil comes to market. First, however, the No. 2 conditioning plant has to be expanded and upgraded. This is the plant that removes the water and impurities from the oil for transport in the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. Roads and new transportation pipe to move the oil from the new pads to the conditioning plant have to be built, and the repair and upgrade of existing transportation pipe systems need to be finished before new oil in any real quantity will flow. Three to five years is the estimated time before significant quantities of oil flow down the pipeline.
Once this oil starts to flow, all bets are off. Either we get the spending under control now, or Dunleavy’s successors and the Legislature will spend every dime in pursuit of appeasing the plebes in order to stay in office. Government will become pervasive and oppressive, given the red flag bills and other Marxist legislation that will do nothing but repress our rights and guarantee failure no matter how much money is spent.
Eventually, the Permanent Fund will disappear into the money pit and the issue of the PFD will be moot. And, given the ‘'fair’' tax initiative, that promise of more oil may be reduced or delayed in favor of investment elsewhere until the state returns to sanity with respect for the need to pay the bills. One does not cut off the hand that feeds. The private sector needs to expand, not retract. We need jobs, not failed socialist ideological goals.
Dunleavy is the sanity that needed to happen, the shock to the system that had to be done. He is the clear voice of reason in the face of failure. We cannot afford to change horses in the middle of this stream. We cannot let establishment elitist Republicans like Giessel return us to failure.
Dunleavy must stay in office. Or, the failures of his predecessors, Sean Parnell and Walker, will become the norm and we will continue to spend money like a drunken sailor. Our transportation, public safety, economy, and education sectors will continue to fail.
The recall is not about an oppressive governor. It exists, because those who favor uncontrolled spending and government growth fear his success. They are fighting against the restoration of respect for our rights, the sanctity of life, the rule of law, investment, jobs and the expansion of the private sector.
Support this governor or restore failure as the norm.
Larry Wood is a longtime Alaskan who lives on Lazy Mountain near Palmer.
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