Letters to the Editor

Letter: Tough votes

A few weeks ago, on a Saturday, the House voted not to concur with the Senate’s proposed budget. This vote happens every year, and the House hasn’t voted yes to concur since 1982, but this year it took on outsized significance because the Senate’s proposed budget would have paid out a Permanent Fund dividend of roughly $5,500 — by far the largest in state history. Rejecting that super-sized PFD was the biggest legislative achievement of the session.

Paying out such a large check would have blown a hole in the state budget despite our sky-high revenue this year — irresponsible on its face. And yet, up against extreme pressure from the governor and a loud minority of constituents, the House Finance chair and the House Majority Leader (who urged his colleagues to vote no) both voted yes to concur, even as the vote narrowly failed, 22-18. I heard from those same voices but held my ground, voting no on principle — and saving the state $1.5 billion.

I’m sure many reading this wish that I’d voted the other way; that their PFD this year were going to be $5,500 and wonder where that $1.5 billion goes — some accuse legislators of taking the money or shunting it to our friends. That’s nonsense. That money is used for things like healthcare for folks on Medicaid, reinvesting in schools both K-12 and university, repairing our infrastructure and boosting our courts, prisons, cops. It’s also put away in state accounts to be drawn down in the future, as we’ve done in recent years with low oil prices. We use the revenue the state earns for the good of the people, not for the benefit of politicians. Let’s also not forget that the PFD check we’re about to receive is almost triple of what it was last year and the biggest yet to be paid out. I’ve never been one to flip once I know where I stand. If the governor threatens to pull a capital project from my district or if a senator threatens not to hear one of my bills, I don’t budge.

I’m leaving the Legislature this year to run for Congress, and I hope voters consider this as they fill out their ballots this week. Look at candidates’ positions on the big issues facing Alaska. See if they are moved by political pressure to change their vote on things like oil taxes, defined benefits for state employees, or the PFD. I’m not saying that one’s views can’t evolve over time, but I think it’s fair to expect politicians to stick to their principles. When you look at my candidacy through that lens, you’ll find I take a principled and thoughtful approach to problems in the Legislature, and would do the same in Congress. I take pride in hearing from all sides of an issue. I ask tough questions in committee and ultimately try to take the best vote, one that I believe to be the best for the people I represent. I hope voters take their vote as seriously when they vote in the upcoming election on June 11 and all the ones following this election season. It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of Fairbanks for the past eight years.

Rep. Adam Wool


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