Catherine A. "Cathy" Giessel, Republican
Alaska Senate, District N
Why are you running for office?
Alaska is a place of great opportunity. I know this from a lifetime of living here and listening to folks in my district. For the last 4 years, as a State Senator, I have been doing all I can to ensure a secure, prosperous future, jobs for all Alaskans, affordable energy, reduced government budgets and increased small business opportunities.
The biggest problem facing the state of Alaska is
Alaska faces complex issues that require thoughtful consideration and detailed answers. We need leaders who do what's best for Alaskans, not what favors their own careers. I value integrity, hard work and common sense, just like Alaskans do.
Describe three ways in which the state should try to grow and diversify Alaska's economy
Stabilizing energy costs for citizens and businesses brings economic growth and diversification.
The in-state gas pipeline is the centerpiece of this.
A prosperous economy also requires a healthy, education workforce and good policies.
What amount of state spending do you believe is sustainable? If cuts need to be made, where should most of the money come from, the operations budget or the capital budget?
Programs such as Medicaid, education and public pensions now consume more than half of state spending and soon will consume all state revenue. We cannot cut our way out of this. I have worked to grow the economy and increase state revenues through responsible resource development.
What additional steps can the state take to promote construction of a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope?
As the chair of the Senate Resources committee, I have dug deep into the issues of the AK LNG project. We are on the right path, with the project moving forward, FERC pre-filing process has begun, and Dept of Energy application to export LNG from Alaska has been filed.
The voters have chosen Senate Bill 21 or the More Alaska Production Act to generate most of the state's tax revenues. How will you determine whether this tax structure is effective? Do you think any changes should be made to the law in the upcoming legislative session?
Undeniable fact: Alaska has seen an annual decline of 6-8% in oil production over the last 10 years. Since SB 21 was passed, the decline is now 0%. Work is underway to continue increased production, and new companies are investing. With a stable, predictable tax policy, we will see more investment and production.
The state's savings is being depleted. How low should the savings go before you begin to seriously discuss implementing a widespread tax, such as as a sales or income tax, or reducing Permanent Fund Dividend checks to help pay for services?
Continued natural resource development and prudent fiscal management will preserve our AAA bond rating, the highest rating possible. This was solidified by the $3 billion payment to the $12 billion state employee and teacher pension liability. Fiscal restraint in spending is an ongoing need.
Should the state subsidy program for films and reality television programs continue? Explain.
No, it has been shown to lack benefit for Alaska
Taxation on oil and gas production in Alaska is ___ (Generally higher than it should be, About right; Generally lower than it should be, other):
Taxation on other industries in Alaska is ___ (Generally higher than it should be, About right; Generally lower than it should be, other):
Taxation on individual citizens in Alaska is ___ (Generally higher than it should be, About right; Generally lower than it should be, other):s:
What are your specific plans to address the serious problems of leadership, morale and accountability within the Alaska National Guard?
Governor Parnell has taken decisive action to correct a long-standing grievous problem in the Alaska National Guard. I support the investigation and clean up of the outrageous conduct.
What are Alaska's three biggest education challenges? What is your plan to address each of them?
Education is first, last and always about the students. Alaska has diverse education needs. Education must innovate and change or we will continue to fall further behind the rest of the world. Parents want education that gives their child the best opportunities to achieve and succeed.
What are your suggestions to increase accountability of public schools?
Many schools are performing very well in achieving results of well-prepared, knowledgeable students. Alaska has many outstanding teachers. I support those teachers and schools that are achieving results.
Would you support a constitutional amendment that would allow public funds to be spent on private or religious K-12 education? If such an amendment were to pass, would you then support voucher or some similar grant to parents of state funds that they could spend on private or religious education for their children?
First, last and always, education is about the students. Every child deserves access to the education that meets their needs. I support every Alaskan child being treated equally and fairly, without discrimination.
What are your plans for improving the quality of education offered through the University of Alaska system?
All education funding, regardless of the education level, must be subject to audit and accountability. Many programs in our UA system have national notoriety for excellence. But credits must be transferable between campuses, and budgets must be restrained.
Do you support or oppose expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act? Explain.
Under ACA, one insurance company had more than $7 million in claims from 33 people in the first 6 months of 2014. I want smart, Alaska-centered health solutions to help the greatest number of Alaskans. The Medicaid Task Force is working this issue right now.
Are you confident that the current level of state environmental regulation and oversight of offshore oil and gas drilling and shipping is adequate to prevent a major spill in Alaska? If not, where are we deficient and what will you propose to achieve adequate protection?
Alaska's resource regulation and oversight is the most stringent in the US. This culture of safety and diligence protects our environment and our workforce. There is always room for improvement and we are constantly looking for best practices.
What is your assessment of Alaska's transportation system? What, if anything, would you change?
Roads, rail and air transportation bring economic development, resource development, jobs and growth. I advocate for continued expansion of our road system.
The Legislature has approved the use of state funds for four mega-projects: the Knik Arm Crossing, the Susitna-Watana dam and two gas line projects. Can the state afford all four, or should one or more be dropped? If so, which?
Knik Arm Bridge has been delegated to Alaska Dept of Transportation; it will only go forward if Federal funds can be secured. Watana continues to be reviewed for cost analysis and impacts. ASAP and AKLNG are both going forward but data is not duplicative; ASAP is ready to go proceed if AKLNG proves uneconomic.
State your position on abortion. When should it be allowed, and when should government pay for it? Do you anticipate pushing any legislation, policies or budget proposals that would change the status quo in Alaska?
I defend life, from conception to natural death.
When is it appropriate to appoint a non-Alaskan to a state board or commission?
When we want the very best, and the very best is not available in an Alaska resident.
Are you satisfied with the process by which judges are selected and appointed in Alaska? Explain.
"The jurisdiction of the courts shall be prescribed by law." (Alaska Constitution Art. 4 sec. 1). The courts have expanded their reach to overthrowing laws established by vote of the people, and laws enacted by the Legislative and Executive branches. The process has drifted from the Founders' intent.
The number of Alaska State Troopers and Village Public Safety Officers is ____ (More than necessary, about right, less than necessary):
Less than necessary
If you answered more or less, what specific steps would you take to achieve the right level?
In light of the ever-increasing Medicaid, education and pension costs, added public safety funding is challenging. But public protection is a fundamental purpose of government.
Occupation: State Senator, Nurse Practitioner
Current employer: State of Alaska
Employment history: RN and Advanced Nurse Practitioner
Previous public offices held: State Senator 2011-present
Previous unsuccessful runs for office: None
University of Michigan Ann Arbor - BSN
University of Alaska Anchorage - MSN
Military service: None
Spouse's name: Richard