Solving Our Fiscal Crisis & Balancing the Budget
This year, Alaska’s state elections are critically important for one reason: the budget. Never before has our state government and its leaders faced such a challenge. The first step to addressing Alaska’s $3.2 billion annual budget deficit is to take ownership of the problem, refrain from finger-pointing, and work together to reach fair and equitable solutions. Juneau has been plagued by partisan bickering and gridlock—much like Washington DC in recent years—and few of our leaders have been willing to stand up and take on the responsibility of correcting our state’s fiscal path before it’s too late.
As your State Senator, I will not shy away from the hard choices and challenges that our state budget presents. As a retired senior tax advisor, insurance broker, and former member of the Anchorage Chamber’s Small Business Committee, I offer unparalleled experience, insight, and credentials in this race to hit the ground running in Juneau and fight for you. You deserve someone with real-world experience to represent you and actively fight for you.
Long term fiscal planning MUST include and consider the input of all groups of Alaskans—not just those who can afford to hire lobbyists or fly to Juneau. We must arrive at a balanced and sustainable budget, but I will not allow this to be done on the backs of seniors, students, and those living on the edge of poverty. I believe that in order to be successful, our plan must include a wide group of vested stakeholders—from the individual all the way up to the largest corporation—we all must be willing to be part of a fair solution. No one industry or group should shoulder the entire burden of supporting government.
To Tax or Not To Tax
We must systematically reexamine the exemptions and tax credits we offer to various industries in Alaska—not just oil and gas. We have many “indirect expenditures” or foregone revenues which may have made sense at one time, but now Alaska needs those revenues more than ever.
From 1949 to 1980, Alaska had a state personal income tax generating a stable and reliable source for Alaska to provide essential services. Today, thanks to the repeal of that stable source following the construction of the Trans Alaska Pipeline, and with our nearly total reliance on the increasingly volatile price of oil to operate our state—we may for the first time find ourselves unable to pay for even the most basic constitutionally mandated services like public safety, health, and education. The decision in recent years has been to harvest our state savings accounts—which will soon be empty. That is no longer an option.
I believe that our state’s budget can only be balanced through a prudent mix of smart, targeted cuts to discretionary state spending, coupled with implementing stable and dependable revenues going forward. Reductions should be made only with sensitivity and consideration for the impacts the cuts will have—especially when it comes to infrastructure and services which grow our workforce, keep our youth off the street, and provide long-term benefits. We cannot afford to be penny wise and dollar foolish.
If we reinstate the state income tax, I support a sunset clause that will trigger a suspension of the tax when the state returns to sound fiscal stability. We can reach that point through increased production of our natural resources, royalty and tax revenue from a natural gas pipeline, or other growth in Alaska’s industries.
An income tax must be progressive, with an offset for the Permanent Fund Dividend—holding all Alaskans harmless for receiving this piece of their mineral royalty from Alaska’s commonly owned resources.
There are some who are advocating for a state sales tax. If we as a state decide to go this route, I will fight to exempt essential services such as food and medicine—protecting low income families and seniors. A sales tax offers our state an opportunity to take advantage of one of our most important renewable resources—tourists and visitors who come to see all that Alaska is blessed to offer.
The Governor this year vetoed half of the PFD. I believe that if the PFD is to be part of the solution to the imbalance of state government, that each of us should have an equal voice. There should be a form attached to the PFD application which allows Alaskans to give their input. As an owner-state, the PFD is part of our share of the oil revenue. I question why low and middle income Alaskans should have to provide half of their PFD to balance the budget. This measure by itself is regressive and places a disproportionate share of the burden on those least able to carry it.
One of Alaska’s great resources is its people. Providing funding for education is in an investment for the future. It starts with funding pre-k and our university. Alaska will benefit from having an educated population that attract businesses that generate additional revenue. Businesses will receive the benefit of have an educated workforce that can be creative and productive.
Veteran programs and rights are extremely important to me and that’s why I serve on the Veterans Volunteer Committee at the Alaska VA Hospital and member of the American Legion. I will continue to advocate for veterans as a State Senator.
I support collective bargaining. I will fight to keep it that way.
I strongly support the second amendment with background checks.
Special Interest donations have had an undue influence on our politics. Causing fear and greed. Fear from legislators that special interest will support someone else against them and greed from the special interest to get all they can for their money no matter who it may hurt. I will accept only Individual donations.