The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for the Alaska Legislature in Southcentral Alaska to answer a series of issue questions. Read all of them here.
Monica Stein-Olson | Democrat | Occupation: Retired | Age: 63 | Residence: Talkeetna | Relevant experience or prior offices held: 30 years of public service with USAID in the US government managing billions of economic development dollars overseas. | monicaforstatehouse.com
Why are you running for office?
From my USG 30 years of experience, I am a rural economic development and youth programming expert and I want to use those skills to increase jobs in Mat Su.
I want to provide an alternative to the incumbent David Eastman for Mat Su voters.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed life in Alaska. In addition to ongoing public health threats, the state has seen serious, long-term impacts to its economy and jobs, education system, tourism and the ability for residents to travel. Have state leaders handled the pandemic effectively? Explain.
No. For Mat-Su, the state did not meet its obligations on the School bond debt reimbursement forcing the borough to take cuts in other areas jeopardizing our response to coronavirus.
What role should the state play in repairing economic damage in Alaska from the pandemic?
The state should put in place an enabling environment for investments in infrastructure and education that will spur economic growth and provide a skilled labor force.
Describe two pressing issues facing your district. What do you plan to do about them if elected?
School bond debt reimbursement- I would work to fund the state’s commitment to the borough.
On education I would reinvest funding into the school district
How would you create a sustainable state operating budget that doesn’t borrow annually from the state’s savings to meet shortfalls?
I would put in place an Alaska Central Bank to ensure that Alaska funds reflow into Alaska investments and businesses.
What is your vision for the Alaska Permanent Fund and the future of the dividend program?
The dividend program is an Alaskan tradition and should continue to be paid.
The state is projecting a $2.3 billion deficit for the next fiscal year if the Permanent Fund dividend is paid using the traditional formula in state law. If no dividend is paid, the deficit would be about $300 million. Do you support cutting services to pay a larger dividend? If so, what services would you cut first?
I don’t support cutting services to pay a bigger dividend. If the Fair Share Act doesn’t pass, I would support the POMV calculation for the PFD.
What are your ideas to improve Alaska’s elementary and high schools?
Increase wages and benefits of teachers.
What is your vision for the University of Alaska?
The cuts went too deep. I envision that the State Legislature reestablish those UAA programs.
What would you do to reduce high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence in Alaska?
Put in place programs to address mental illness, family counseling and after school programs. Studies have shown that Increased economic growth has decreased sexual assaults and DV.
What are your ideas to stabilize, grow and diversify Alaska’s economy?
Bring in investments to strengthen infrastructure for mining, tourism, seafood, aerospace and technology sectors to create jobs. Ensure the school system has the funding to graduate students with the skills to fill newly created jobs.
What’s your position on the proposed Pebble mine?
Wrong mine in the wrong place.
What other important issue would you like to discuss with voters?
Veterans issues. As Alaskans, we need to take better care of our veterans especially when it comes to PTSD.