David Teal, then-director of Legislative Finance, gives an overview of the state’s fiscal situation to the Senate Finance Committee at the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)

David Teal, then-director of Legislative Finance, gives an overview of the state’s fiscal situation to the Senate Finance Committee at the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: Alaska can’t afford four more years of a governor who lives in an alternate reality

A spike in oil prices does not change our long-term fiscal reality.

  • By David Teal
  • Tuesday, May 10, 2022 10:51am
  • Opinion

By David Teal

For the past four years, Alaskans have listened to our current governor promote an alternate reality in which distributing massive dividends to the people has no negative consequences. Unfortunately, paying too much in dividends really does have detrimental impacts.

Current high oil prices lead some to conclude that there is plenty of money for mega-dividends, both now and in the future. Those of us who have lived through the boom/bust cycles of the past know the current boom will not last forever.

Changing the permanent fund to an endowment structure — thank you, Gov. Bill Walker — gave us a large, stable, sustainable revenue stream that helped eliminate the deficits that plagued us for many years. But like it or not, a spike in oil prices does not change our long-term fiscal reality.

Those of us who understand that big dividends reduce the amount of money available for other purposes are concerned because politicians who campaign next to a large dividend check will leave no choice but to increase taxes or reduce spending on essential services. Like it or not, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that more money for dividends means less money for government services.

We need a leader who recognizes the truth about our fiscal situation. We need a leader who will tell the truth about our fiscal situation. We need a leader who will fix our fiscal situation. Bill Walker has demonstrated that he understands fiscal reality and will make tough decisions in the best interest of present and future citizens. Let’s put him back in the governor’s chair.

• David Teal is the retired director of the Legislative Finance Division. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

More in Opinion

Web
Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

A fore sale sign hangs outside of a Juneau residence. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Real estate sales disclosure promotes fairness

I’m really not so worried about the city government knowing what we paid for our house.

This photo shows a ballot drop box at Don D. Statter Harbor. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: Say no to Prop 4 — your home price isn’t really private anyway

The city’s disclosure rule doesn’t compromise your privacy — it just democratizes access to information.

(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: Taxation and inflation threaten habitation

At some point, you’ve paid enough taxes/ you have done your share.

Signs urging attendees of a Saturday football game to vote in favor of Proposition 2 sit on a chair on the track at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: I’m a former player and current coach supporting Prop 2

This is very personal to me – for several reasons.

This image available under the Creative Commons license shows the outline of the state of Alaska filled with the pattern of the state flag.
Opinion: Bringing broadband to all Alaskans

Too many Alaskans face barriers accessing the internet.

A City and Borough of Juneau Municipal Election ballot sits in a privacy sleeve. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: Hard times call for hard choices

No one wants to say that you must do more with less.

This photo shows a stack of pocket constitutions at the Alaska State Capitol. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Join us in voting against a constitutional convention

Voting no on a constitutional convention is vital to the well-being and stability of our state.

Most Read