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.
Scott Kohlhaas | Libertarian | Occupation: Consultant | Age: 61 | Residence: Anchorage | Relevant experience or prior offices held: Assemblyman Southwest Neighborhood Assembly; Board Member Dundee Library/Fox River Valley Library District | www.scottforstatehouse.com
Why are you running for office?
I am running for office to stop the proposed state income tax.
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.
I am deeply concerned with the highly restrictive health mandates issued by the executive branch. I believe the Governor’s mandates are unconstitutional and should be repealed. They violate our 1st Amendment right to assemble, threatening our economic and religious liberties.
What role should the state play in repairing economic damage in Alaska from the pandemic?
Recently, the state government destroyed the economy by shutting it down. The state government has no role in repairing the economy except to step back and allow business people the freedom and prudence to quickly recover.
Describe two pressing issues facing your district. What do you plan to do about them if elected?
Poverty: Our economy is a shambles. District 16 has one of the highest percentages of Title 1 schools in the state. I will work for a specially designated enterprise zone for District 16, including tax breaks and regulatory exemptions to lift this district out of poverty.
Unresponsive, ineffective leadership: This district has been voting for the same leadership for many years. “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten”. If you want to ignored, and continue to live surrounded by poverty and crime, then keep voting in our current state representative, who only offers a handout--not a leg up. I will be truly independent and I will not controlled by the binding caucus that rules our incumbent legislator.
How would you create a sustainable state operating budget that doesn’t borrow annually from the state’s savings to meet shortfalls?
Cut spending. As a start, I propose an across the board 15% fair and equal cut to all departments. Not like the current mean-spirited “cuts” that decreased UA funding by 41% but increased the Governor’s budget 5%. This legislature offered up a ridiculous budget deficit of $2.3 billion. We can do better.
What is your vision for the Alaska Permanent Fund and the future of the dividend program?
My opinion is that the Permanent Fund and it’s dividend are reparations to the people of Alaska in exchange for the theft of our right to land and subsurface ownership. I believe it’s critical that we keep career politicians' hands off the money of the Permanent Fund.
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?
In my own personal and professional budgets, if I have a deficit, I must cut spending. I have proposed an immediate 15% cut to all state departments. I will work for further spending cuts--not new tax revenue streams like my opponent.
What are your ideas to improve Alaska’s elementary and high schools?
First, I want to stress that, while I represent District 16, my vote for education will be a vote for all Alaskans. Second, right now the “new normal” is a grand experiment in homeschooling. To me, that is the parents choice. I believe it will improve our schools by removing the people who do not want to be there.
What is your vision for the University of Alaska?
I attended and love the University of Alaska. I am very much impressed by it’s growth. At the same time, it has kept it’s inclusiveness and commitment to higher education. I favor state and federal land grants to the University of Alaska so it can free itself from state government budget uncertainty.
What would you do to reduce high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence in Alaska?
I will champion the prioritization of processing the (literally) thousands of victim sexual assault evidence collection kits. We should be outraged that serial rapists are allowed to walk our streets because of the bureaucracy’s snails pace.
What are your ideas to stabilize, grow and diversify Alaska’s economy?
I would work to repeal the “Jones Act”, which allows only American ships to deliver goods to Alaska at a higher price for us. The “Jones Act” was actually suspended for Puerto Rico after it’s last hurricane. We had to get it out of the way to save lives! I think Alaskans can live and prosper without the “Jones Act”.
What’s your position on the proposed Pebble mine?
The lands in Alaska should be privately owned. The owners could decide what to do with their property. The Alaska Flag Song mentions gold three times. It mentions water four times (five if you include the “Dipper”). Pollution of any land or water is considered trespass, and we should protect everyone’s property rights with the full force of the law.
What other important issue would you like to discuss with voters?
The state income tax must be stopped. We already pay higher property taxes, federal income taxes, excise taxes, gas taxes, estate taxes, alcohol taxes, etc., etc., etc.. I want to go on record to say that as your state representative, the Alaska Legislature will pass a state income tax over my dead body.