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.
David Nees | Alaskan Independence Party | Occupation: Retired | Residence: Anchorage | Relevant experience or prior offices held: Teacher, airport worker, motor coach driver/guide, Researcher Alaska Policy Forum, Alaska Politics explained, member House Sustainable Education Task Force| www.nees4alaska.com
Why are you running for office?
The last two Legislators removed over $100 million from my districtsresidents
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.
It depends on where in the state you live. Anchorage’s mayor has been overactive and destroyed the local economy, and school system while using covid relief money for his Agendas. The shuttering of the tourism economy, the second biggest revenue source in Alaska will have a budgetary effect this year.
What role should the state play in repairing economic damage in Alaska from the pandemic?
The number one goal is direct injection of cash into private economy. Pay the full dividend and the owed past dividends to jump start the private sector, and watch it come back to life, Boom Bust is the norm, first Bust in decades, but we will boom again the state’s job is to get out of the way and let the Private sector work.
Describe two pressing issues facing your district. What do you plan to do about them if elected?
Being the Secretary on my community council for the last two years I get a front row seat to what the citizens are upset about. Homeless occupation of parks and lack of police services is one of two issues, at nearly every meeting.
Solution: Reform the Governors task force on Homelessness by addressing vagrancy laws., and ensuring mental health trust lands are liquidated to fund needs is a good solution. The Homeless industry is funding too many nonprofit 6 figure jobs.
We have no regular policing in Sand Lake despite having a training center in the area, and nearly no residents who are on the police force. We have no city court system to process the offenders in a timely manner. You have to require precinct policing with precinct jails and courts in each house district to fix this. Paid for by city funds.
The other issue is the drainage on the Dimond West Park area, a state road with a municipal designed overflow problem. No solution in sight yet.
How would you create a sustainable state operating budget that doesn’t borrow annually from the state’s savings to meet shortfalls?
Reduce agency spending to inflation adjusted pre oil levels.
Place a spending cap that is inflation adjusted on all other formulas. or rewrite those formulas.
Resist the urge to tax residents, as the private economy has suffered enough, to prop up the public sector.
3 of every 4 residents in the district do not have jobs as they work in private sector.
What is your vision for the Alaska Permanent Fund and the future of the dividend program?
Return to the good times by following follow the original distribution of interest, Jay Hammonds vision, with interest split equally between shareholders (residents) and the State. All while keeping a cap on the draw imposed by the POMV. The choice to deposit $5 Billion on July 1, the biggest in history, in the corpus, instead of paying the past due dividends made COVID/Tourism crash worse. It also removed it from the ERA for this year, when we need it. So in summary, I as a legislator I will not follow the failed Coghill/Giessel/VonImhoff realists nightmare vision.
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?
The Coghill/Giesel projection is flawed. It ignores the choice to not continue to spend on “Designated funds.” The realists were voted out for a reason. The narrative offered by CWN, Alaska Common Ground and ADN editorial board sees all state spending as good. Other states have cut budgets in state operations. In Alaska we have the highest ration of state employees per capita and many unfilled positions that are funded. We need to outsource hundreds of state functions like corporations do, accounting, payroll etc. Like the UMV locations. We need to get state out of real estate business, first sell surplus state buildings, and second have one central real estate leasing Dept. not 16.
What are your ideas to improve Alaska’s elementary and high schools?
Passing a 4th grade literacy requirement has been effective in every state in improving both elementary and High Schools. Change funding formula away from block grants and to merit pay.
What is your vision for the University of Alaska?
The same one that the founders had, establish it, and then it is on its own. A University that pays its own way through the property it owns, alumni donations, and tuition. The constitution does not have the same establish and maintain clause for the university system as it does K-12.
What would you do to reduce high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence in Alaska?
Prosecute, prosecute, prosecute. Prioritize the Prosecution and conviction of offenders, and finish the backlog of rape kit tests to aide prosecution of cold cases.
What are your ideas to stabilize, grow and diversify Alaska’s economy?
Immediate need first, Jump start the private economy, the public sector was unaffected by Covid, why? Long Term need, Ensure the annual PFD Dividend in October is the statutory disbursement to stabilize and stimulate the private economy. Reduce and review all regulations, reduce all fees. Continue to encourage resource development and develop a manufacturing sector. Open Alaska for business we are 48th on the Economic freedom index from the 2020 Frazier Institue report.
What’s your position on the proposed Pebble mine?
It satisfies Article VIII, Sec 1 of Ak constitution “It is the Policy of the state to encourage settlement of its land and the development of its resources by making them available or maximum use consistent with public interest.” It also is an opportunity to bring natural gas and electricity to the region, as well as jobs.
What other important issue would you like to discuss with voters?
As a resident of the district, I have enjoyed the residential quality of our life, I oppose the high density, Seattle creep showing up in the area. We really do not need a multistory high-rise on the corner of Dimond and Arlene. With the associated traffic problems. We do need to keep our parks patrolled and crime free. Kincaid is a treasure, my children ran and skied their trails many times. Developed by the citizens of the community we share it happily with the rest of the city. As a child I traveled the world with my Air Force dad, England, Japan, Florida, New York and Oregon as were places I lived and enjoyed. But like many other military family members I fell in love with Alaska and chose to be here. Being born and raised here does not make you more of an Alaskan, it is if you love the state that makes you an Alaskan. We are a Great land, but we need to be vigilant and oppose those who want to make us Portland, Seattle or San Francisco.