The state of Alaska faces a financial crisis of immense proportions. Gov. Bill Walker and legislators have a plan and sponsored it with certain legislative planks. They designed an emergency fiscal bridge to cross this fiscal abyss safely. The bridge is composed of three wide planks. All of them are needed to make the bridge wide enough to get to the other side without falling off.
Plank 1: Cuts in spending, which has two halves. One half cuts government services; the other cuts the projected donations to the oil tax credit kitty.
Plank 2: A new source of income derived from reconstructing the permanent fund.
Plank 3: Income tax and other sources of income generation.
Positively reacting to change is extremely difficult. We have to go forward. It is my concern that many of our current legislators are trying to kick the can down the road, enabling them and most Alaskans to remain oblivious to the consequences. Their responses to the governor’s plan thus far:
Plank 1: The Legislature has only agreed to carving deeply into social services.
Plank 2: Has generally been ignored as too controversial.
Plank 3: Legislators seem to feel it is not their responsibility to tax citizens and entities.
Then, what exactly are their responsibilities?
The vast majority of Alaskans I know are in favor of building the whole bridge in all its parts. This is especially true when it comes to the oil companies, for which in retrospect, former Gov. Sean Parnell’s oil legislation can be viewed as corporate welfare on steroids. Approaching our state’s financial chasm, the Legislature appears to be laying down one half of a plank. The half of the beam composed of the cuts in social services has been widened and thickened, but a full 85 percent of proposed reductions in the oil tax credit kitty have been returned to the kitty.
Do we, the people of Alaska, have to suffer the entire weight of the loss of state services and jobs, losing K-12 educators, losing Alaska State Troopers who protect us and starving the University of Alaska budget? Basically the Alaska peoples’ services/safety/education nets were shredded in plain sight. For these losses, we are asked to stumble across a huge financial crater on what? This is not the stable three plank bridge envisioned by the governor, but rather a half plank, with all but a few inches of the corporate board sawn off. Not adopting the governor’s full plan is an end game: a horribly expensive one in the long term for Alaskans.