Opinion: Now is the time to limit state spending

Alaska’s fiscal dilemma remains residents’ top concern.

  • By KATI CAPOZZI
  • Friday, May 10, 2019 7:00am
  • Opinion
Kati Capozzi. (Courtesy Photo)

Kati Capozzi. (Courtesy Photo)

As Alaskans, we face these fiscally uncertain times together.

With the private sector’s success inextricably linked to how the rest of the economy fares, we must ensure that we continue to grow our businesses. After all, investment and job creation are mandatory to the state’s future success.

Yet as long as significant state budget deficits remain, economic growth is in jeopardy.

The Alaska State Chamber of Commerce represents 100,000 Alaska employees and businesses large and small. Smart spending habits and pro-business policies that grow our economy are the cornerstones of the chamber’s advocacy efforts.

As the voice of Alaska business, our membership votes every year to determine our public policy positions.

The positions naturally change with time, but one key issue has consistently remained a priority for more than 20 years, both when the state was flush with cash from high oil prices, and when it was struggling through economic recession: the need for a sustainable fiscal plan focused on Alaska’s future.

[Opinion: A change in Alaska’s crime laws is needed now]

Every year, we also look outside our diverse membership to better understand Alaskans’ attitudes about the state’s much-discussed fiscal situation.

Recently, the chamber conducted its annual statewide poll — and the 2019 numbers are in. Unsurprisingly, state spending and the Permanent Fund Dividend remain the overwhelmingly dominant issues on Alaskans’ minds.

Alaskans have spoken. They want reasonable restraints on government spending and a final say in big budget decisions. Based on the data, without a doubt Alaska’s fiscal dilemma remains residents’ top concern.

Interestingly, 47 percent of Alaskans rate the state economy as good, an improvement of nine points from last year. That said, when asked in a separate question if they felt Alaska was on the “right track” or “wrong track” economically, 64 percent of Alaskans still think the state is on the wrong track.

That number is virtually unchanged from last year, indicating that Alaskans want closure on the public policy debate that has been raging in our state for nearly five years now. The good news is opportunities exist now for state leaders to stabilize and improve the health and direction of the Alaska economy.

[‘A budget that no one loves’: Full PFD remains in budget, for now]

It is clear Alaskans have paid close attention as the new governor and Legislature tackle tough issues related to budgets. We asked Alaskans where they stand on current proposals meant to fix Alaska’s budget dilemma.

The proposals of particular importance to chamber members who enjoy majority support:

• 75 percent support requiring the Legislature to obtain voter approval before a statewide tax could take effect.

• 61 percent support a constitutionally mandated state spending cap.

Other policy issues that saw majority support:

• 69 percent support a work requirement for Medicaid recipients.

• 65 percent support exploration and production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Over the remaining days of the legislative session and interim, we will share insights and meaningful trends from the 2019 polling data with partners and communities across Alaska. The data we present is pulled from one of the largest surveys conducted in the state and representative of Alaska’s unique electorate.

While Alaska continues to climb out from under a record-breaking recession, the good news is that we may have turned a corner. Especially encouraging is the revelation that many issues still unite Alaskans, even in challenging times.

While the voices that seek to divide us are loud, we look forward to people and businesses uniting around public policy that Alaskans from across the state can support. Clearly, civil conversations on the merits of the proposals on the table are a good place to start.


• Kati Capozzi is the president and CEO of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


More in Opinion

Web
Have something to say?

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

Former Democratic state Rep. Beth Kerttula holds up a sign reading “Vote No Con Con,” during a recent rally at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza in Juneau. Opposition to a constitutional convention, which could alter the Alaska State Constitution to allow for banning abortions was a frequent topic during the protest. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
A constitutional convention would be doomed to fail

Principled compromise has given way to the unyielding demands of performative politicians

In this May 31, 2018 photo Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, speaks to the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge. (Michael Penn/ Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Remembering the man I called ‘boss’

Dennis Egan was able to make me laugh out loud from beyond the grave.

Alexander B. Dolitsky
Opinion: We make our choices and our choices make us

All Americans must be courageous and stand strong against this radical madness…

Heavy metals run out of the Tulsequah Chief mine opening and down to holding ponds next to the Tulsequah River Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008. Leakage from those ponds can be seen entering the river that flows into the Taku River down stream. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Cleaning up Tulsequah Chief would improve salmon habitat

Two decades of pressure is finally showing some result.

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: We’re at risk of losing our well-crafted constitution

Vote no for a constitutional convention in November.

T
Opinion: The latest gun regulation bill is nothing to cheer about

The legislation resembles the timid movements of a couple of 6-month old children…

T
Opinion: Here’s what I expect of lawmakers in a post-Roe America

I urge lawmakers to codify abortion rights at the state and federal levels.

t

Most Read