Letter: Time to clean house

Months ago, as legislators gathered in Juneau, to begin a new legislative year, Gov. Bill Walker submitted a much needed financial budget plan for Alaska. This was not done in the vacuum of an ivory tower. Rather, in June 2015, he brought hundreds across the state to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to discuss our financial condition. Then he gathered together thousands of Alaskans in many town hall meetings. Ideas gleaned were fine-tuned into a viable budget to the legislators, even before they came to Juneau. It was an approach whereby everyone would experience some of the “bite,” but not overwhelming to anyone.

It was a three-fold plan for Alaska:

1) Spending reductions,

2) An annual sustainable draw from the Permanent Fund earnings,

3) Raise additional revenue: increase motor fuel tax (lowest in the nation); a modest income tax pegged to our federal returns (Alaska once had an income tax. Presently many oil and mine workers, with some of the highest incomes live out of the state, take $2.6 billion with them, and pay no tax to Alaska); and increase alcohol and tobacco taxes (a health asset.)

Under Gov. Walker’s plan, by all contributing a little, our financial hemorraging would considerably lessen. It is a clear, balanced approach. Polls reveal most Alaskans agree.

But what has our Legislature done? They have played in the minors, and neglected the major Alaska state finances. In special session, they are allotted a per diem about $240 in Juneau and significantly higher in Anchorage. What have they accomplished? Many legislators favor the governor’s balanced plan. However, the leadership in both Houses have been able to block this from enactment. Forget the legislators words — look at the record. Take careful note. There is a world of difference between a politician and statesman! One is primarily concerned about about their re-election. The other focuses on what is best for the entire state.

We are fortunate to have a governor who is for “all Alaskans”. He is proving himself to be a statesman. If our legislators choose to simply stall at the state’s expense, awaiting the next election and will not follow the governor’s leading, let’s vote them out.

This may be the year to clean house!

Paul D. Beran,