Beth Wythe: City experience good preparation for state job
For almost 12 years I have had the privilege of representing the City of Homer which has prepared me well for the current financial situation facing us at the state level. The financial integrity of the city has been a large focus of my attention and actions that I have promoted have resulted in:
• General fund reserve balances compliant with governmental accounting standards;
• Budget reductions;
• Establishment of the Homer Permanent Fund;
• Reinstatement of the Economic Development Com-mission;
• Reduction of property taxes; and,
• Providing for non-resident facility and system users to contribute to those expenses through sales taxes.
I am accustomed to getting things done with a full-plate. I raised a family while working full-time; Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, sports, music, boards, chaperoning, fundraising. With the children grown, I turned my energies to community representation and continuing my education. Over the past eight years I have enjoyed the wonderful distance education programs available through the University of Alaska Southeast. In 2013 I successfully completed a bachelor of business administration/human resources degree with and a minor in legal studies. In 2015, I completed my master of public administration degree. Armed with experience and education, I am ready to focus my attention on working for the residents of District 31.
The pursuit of these degrees was not because I intend to become a career politician, but rather to learn more about the processes because they often leave me frustrated. It is not my intention to become a career politician. In fact, I don’t consider myself a politician at all. My desire is simply to provide the best level of public service possible and without the tools it is difficult to do any job well.
There are those that would have you believe that I am Homer focused. As a member of the Homer City Council and as the mayor of Homer it is my job to focus on Homer. As your district representative, the level of energy and focus that I have contributed to Homer will expand to cover all of District 31. It will actually be more focused because I will not be distracted by working full-time and pursuing my education. My objective will be finding ways that all communities in our district can work together for the benefit of the area.
We are wide-spread, but have many common interests. Focusing on the common areas and working together will provide District 31 with the best opportunity to get through the current economic situation in a healthy manner. As your area representative, you will be my year-round priority. You will see me in your communities on a regular basis during the months the Legislature is not in session, talking to you about your needs and working to find solutions.
There has been a lot of attention on oil tax credits. After reviewing the proposals presented this legislative session, it appears that there is a lack of control for the state’s financial exposure. This is a substantial part of the problem.
The employment opportunities provided to our area and the state through oil and gas exploration and production industries are substantial and will not easily be replaced. There are thousands of people directly and indirectly employed in exploration, production and support industries. For this reason, finding a way to reasonably continue supporting the industry without bankrupting the state is required. Oil tax credits need to be modified to determine ways to reduce the state’s oil tax credit exposure.
Tax credits should be limited to a reasonable percentage of annual production revenues so the state is not spending more than it is making. The current system appears to leave the door wide open on the amount of credits that can be accrued. Alaska only gets the benefit of our oil and gas when the fields are developed, captured and delivered to the world market. Alaska needs to focus on finding a way to maximize our revenues, while continuing to encourage exploration and extraction.
It is long past time for our state representatives to focus on the future of Alaska. Reviewing the budget and working with Alaskans to ensure that services are being provided that are viable and sustainable is the starting point for right-sizing government.
Oil and gas are great contributors to our economy, but we have become far too dependent on them. No economy should have only one engine. It’s time to focus less on PFD reform and more on government reform. With your support and my commitment we can have a brighter future.