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Liz Vazquez, candidate for Alaska State Representative District 22, answers questions about the issues

  • Author: Alaska News
  • Updated: July 8, 2016
  • Published October 29, 2014

Liz Vazquez, Republican

State Representative, District 22

Why are you running for office?

I am running for state house because there is lots of work to be done and I am just the person to get it done. My extensive record of service to the state and community coupled with my educational background and law degree, provide me with unique qualifications to represent the people of West Anchorage in the state legislature. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work for West Anchorage.

The biggest problem facing the state of Alaska is

The biggest challenges for the legislature is ensuring a health economy and stopping the deficit spending or overspending which has required dipping into our savings. If we continue to overspend, our savings could be depleted in 5 to 6 years and only the permanent dividend fund will be available.The depletion of our savings could take less if the price of oil drops to unexpected levels.

Describe three ways in which the state should try to grow and diversify Alaska's economy

Responsible development of our natural resources such as mining. The state can assist in stimulating infrastructure and work force development. for this industry,see below.

Host the world's premier research center for Arctic issues.

Adding more value to our extracted natural resources.

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?

Cuts need to be made to the state budget but they must thoughtful and targeted like a laser to eliminate waste, inefficiencies and ineffectiveness. The legislative audits reports, issued each year, should be reviewed to determine which programs and expenditures are wasteful, inefficient, and ineffective.

What additional steps can the state take to promote construction of a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope?

The state can:

1. Provide fiscal certainty

2. Stimulate Infrastructure -state partners with the private sector to invest in needed energy and transportation infrastructure critical to the project.

3, Workforce Development - Assist in developing workforce that will build and maintain the project.

4.One Stop Permitting- Through legislation or regulation, create an one stop permitting office, This would simplify and speed up the permitting process.

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?

By monitoring during the next 2-3 years the amount of production & other activities undertaken by the oil industry. SB 21 should be given a chance to work before changes are considered. Changing it in the upcoming legislative session would make the business environment volatile and uncertain. This discourages business growth and investment. Businesses need fiscal certainty..

What additional steps can the state take to promote construction of a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope?

I do not support imposing additional taxes or reducing Permanent Fund Dividend checks at this time.. Instead, I prefer to review the spending side and identify waste and inefficiencies in the state's budget. Legislative audit reports are issued every year and need to be reviewed to identify those expenditures that are wasteful, inefficient or ineffective. Once these are identified, the expenditure should end.

Should the state subsidy program for films and reality television programs continue? Explain.

The answer will depend on economic data. Does this subsidy truly provide economic benefits sufficient to justify state subsidies? Aside from the economic/monetary benefits, are there other intangible benefits to the state like enhancing the image/reputation of Alaska? If the answer is no, then I would not support the continuation of this subsidy.

Taxation on oil and gas production in Alaska is ___ (Generally higher than it should be, About right; Generally lower than it should be, other):

About right

Taxation on other industries in Alaska is ___ (Generally higher than it should be, About right; Generally lower than it should be, other):

About right

Taxation on individual citizens in Alaska is ___ (Generally higher than it should be, About right; Generally lower than it should be, other):

About right

What are your specific plans to address the serious problems of leadership, morale and accountability within the Alaska National Guard?

My plans will be developed after I have the opportunity to review all reports and findings that are available, In addition, I would request state legislative hearings on this matter. After the hearings and a review of all available information, a legislative committee could issue recommendations to the Governor. Subsequent hearings can be scheduled to monitor progress.

What are Alaska's three biggest education challenges? What is your plan to address each of them?

1. Graduation rate- the main responsibility for dealing with this challenge is the student, parents, teachers and their union, NEA and the local school board,

2. Inabiltiy to plan the fiscal year. I would support forward funding so that the school districts have ample time to plan for staffing, etc.

3.Inadequate vocational training- I would support additional funding for vocational training.

What are your suggestions to increase accountability of public schools?

The main responsibility for dealing with this challenge is the student, parents, teachers and their union, NEA and the local school board, However, because significant state money is being spent to teach our children, the legislature should hold hearings to determine what, if anything, can be done by the legislature.

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?

I support empowering the parents and child to select the best education. Accordingly, I would support a constitutional amendment and that would support this.

What are your plans for improving the quality of education offered through the University of Alaska system?

The Board of Regents, professors. UAA administrators and professors have the responsibility to ensuring the quality of education offered by the UAA,

Do you support or oppose expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act? Explain.

I oppose the expansion of Medicaid because it will not be sustainable. The total Medicaid budget for this year is almost 2 billion dollars (1.8 billion), without the expansion. The Medicaid budget has grown tremendously during the past 15 years and is projected to continue to grow. This is not sustainable and federal government will only pay for the additional Medicaid expenses for several years. After that, the State is obligated to continue to fund all of the expansion.

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?

I do not know enough about the current level of state environmental regulation and oversight of offshore oil and gas drilling and shipping to express an opinion. However, I will be researching the issue and if the current levels are not adequate, we can explore ways achieve adequate protection.

What is your assessment of Alaska's transportation system? What, if anything, would you change?

The system needs to improve and the legislature needs to review all available information in order to determine if legislative action is necessary. "The devil is in the details."

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?

We will need to see how these projects will be financed. However, assuming a choice needs to be made, I would proceed with the gas pipelines. They will provide future income for the state.

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?

Generally, I do not support government funding for abortions. However, I support government funding if the abortion is medically necessary to save the mother's life, or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. I personally object to abortions unless the mother's life is in jeopardy or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

When is it appropriate to appoint a non-Alaskan to a state board or commission?

No, not normally unless the Board or commission needs someone with specialized knowledge or expertise that is not readily available in Alaska..

Are you satisfied with the process by which judges are selected and appointed in Alaska? Explain.

No, There are many outstanding attorneys that will not apply for a judicial position because they detest and have no respect for the present process. The present process is a popularity contest among applicants; a popular attorney does not necessarily mean they will become a good judge.

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?

More troopers are needed and for the past several decades, they have been underfunded. I would support additional funding for more Troopers. However, the reasons for not having enough Village Public Safety Officers are more complex and involve non-monetary issues. All available information and data, including reports must be reviewed to determine the best course of action with regard to the shortage of Village Safety Officers.

Bio

Age: 63

Occupation: Attorney

Current employer: Retired

Employment history:

Alaska Dept. of Health & Social Services, Office of Hearings & Appeals- February 2008 to November 2011

Alaska Dept. of Health & Social Services, Commissioner's Office- August 2003 to January 2008

Alaska Dept. of Law, Attorney General's Office- September 1985 to July 2003

Wohlforth & Flint- October 1983 to September 1985

United States Department of Treasury, General Counsel's Office- 1980 to September 1983

United States Office of the Comptroller General, General Counsel's Office 1977 to 1980

United States Office of Management & Budget, June- August 1976

Previous public offices held: Elected twice to the board of directors of Chugach Electric Association - served 6 years from 2005 to 2011.

Previous unsuccessful runs for office:

State Senate (West Anchorage) 2012

Assembly 2010

Postsecondary education:

Master of Business Administration (Global Finance) 2005

Master of Business Administration (Health Care Service Administration) 2006

National Judicial College Certificates (Mediation, Dispute Resolution Skills and Administrative Litigation) 2009- 2011

Law Degree 1977

College Degree 1974

Military service: None

Spouse's name: Mark R. Davis

Children: Amelia L. Vazquez Davis

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