Opinions

Ballot Measure 1 will hurt Alaska’s struggling nonprofit groups

Prudhoe Bay Oil Rigs

COVID-19 has done a number on Alaska’s nonprofit community. Most of the major fundraising events were either canceled outright or scaled down and conducted virtually. Millions in revenues have been lost. Every nonprofit group in this state is nervous about the future. If we are going to recover, we will need more community support than ever. That means we need to defeat Ballot Measure 1.

The nonprofit sector makes up a critical component of the state economy. In fact, Alaska nonprofits play a vital role in the state’s other major industries including seafood, finance, health care, and tourism. The nonprofit sector is woven into the fabric of Alaska in every way conceivable, delivering essential services like housing, education, and environmental protection to residents statewide. Outside of charitable individuals, Alaska’s nonprofits are funded by the oil and gas industry. In fact, it’s almost impossible to find a nonprofit partner list in Alaska that doesn’t include an oil and gas company.

In the nonprofit world, we look for long-term solutions to problems. Ballot Measure 1 is a shortsighted approach to a long-term problem, and will hurt more than it is intended to help.

The nonprofit I am proud to represent provides young Alaskans the tools and knowledge they need to make smart academic and economic choices as they grow into financially savvy adults. Our top corporate donors work in the oil and gas industry, and their support has helped us educate youth for decades. Ballot Measure 1 puts that support in jeopardy by increasing taxes on a struggling industry by between 150-300%. COVID-19 has already wreaked havoc on the entire statewide economy, and targeting one industry for a massive new tax will only make the situation worse. Should Ballot Measure 1 pass, not only would our economy and jobs be at risk, but Alaska’s thriving nonprofits would suffer the consequences, too.

Many nonprofits are clinging to life during the ongoing pandemic. Now is not the time to create barriers to growth for our state’s largest economic force. Oil and gas sets the pace in Alaska. The industry alone generates 38% of all wages in Alaska, and a quarter of all jobs. But those jobs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the full social and economic impact of oil and gas in Alaska.

From the arts, to youth and social service organizations, nonprofits across Alaska benefit from healthy, sustained oil and gas spending. The industry has funded STEM programs, food pantries, animal rescue agencies, women’s shelters – the list goes on – for decades.

I’m voting no on Ballot Measure 1 this November, and I encourage my nonprofit partners to do the same. Together, we can rebuild and strengthen Alaska alongside the oil and gas industry, protecting our jobs, families, economy and essential nonprofits.

Flora Teo is president of Junior Achievement of Alaska.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

Sponsored