Senate District C:Gary Lee Stevens

1. Suppose you are governor and you have a majority in the State Senate and House that would support you on a budget. How would you craft a budget (including an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend) in the face of shifting revenues from petroleum and permanent fund earnings? What options would you consider, such as new revenues (income or sales taxes), cuts in services, or adjustments to the dividend? In other words, how would you solve the issue of a long-term sustainable fiscal plan?

There are many moving parts in crafting the state’s budget and solving the issue of a long-term sustainable fiscal plan. I need to make it clear at the beginning that I do not support an income or sales tax. The Constitution requires a balanced budget every year, unlike the Federal Government. Earnings from both the Permanent Fund and oil revenues will very likely be down this coming year. Realistic cuts in state services will be required. As for the Permanent Fund Dividend I would call upon the legislature to consider the Governor’s 50/50 plan dividing the earnings between state services and the PFD. We will hear from economic experts on whether this plan is sustainable into the future. It is crucial we change the PFD formula to avoid the annual divided fight. When oil revenues are up, we need to add money to the principal of the PF so it generates more income to fund future budgets and we must pay back the CBR to increase our savings in down years.

2. How will you vote on Ballot Measure 1, the question of if Alaska should hold a Constitutional Convention? If you support a convention, what would you change or add in the Alaska Constitution?

Ballot Measure 1: Whether Alaska should hold a Constitutional Convention is up to the voters on November 8th. Personally, I plan to vote against a convention, but everyone will have to make their own decision and I will respect whatever they decide. Our constitution was created convincing Congress and President Eisenhower that Alaska was indeed ready for statehood. We created one of our nation’s finest constitutions. We have amended it some 28 times since statehood. That process is better and safer than a convention. The problem with a convention is that everything would be on the table, from fisheries to education to our court system, right to privacy as well as retirement and health benefits for state and local employees. That is simply too much to consider at one time. It is far better to use the amendment process which takes each issue through careful consideration by the legislature, approval by the Governor, and a vote by you the people.

3. Name three issues affecting District C.




4. How would you address those issues?

Infrastructure: Our Capital Budget demands careful consideration. Particularly in the area of docks and harbors. Virtually every community in my district has serious dock and harbor problems that have been avoided for too long. I was able to get the funding needed to begin planning for Homer’s Large Vessel Harbor Expansion. The next step requires substantial federal and state funding. I am in a position to insure this is in our next state capital budget. Capital budgets have been inadequate in past years. We may not have needed revenues in the future due to declining oil revenues and in our Percent of Market Value from the Permanent Fund. It is time to use our substantial bonding capacity to insure our communities get their capital needs addressed. The state must step forward on docks and harbors assisting our communities as they apply for Federal funding particularly for Homer’s Large Vessel Harbor Expansion. There are other Homer projects that deserve consideration including Homer spit coastal erosion mitigation, the slope stability program, construction of a fiber optic system, safe streets, and roads as well as consistent and reliable ferry service. I will continue to work with the Homer Mayor and City Council to assist in addressing your needs. It is my job to stay informed on local issues and provide help in getting assistance and answers from state and federal agencies.

Education: Alaska’s young people deserve every opportunity for a quality education. When they leave our schools, they deserve to be prepared to enter the workforce, get vocational training, or proceed to higher education. Our focus always has to be on our students. We need to properly fund education, hire professional and talented educators by addressing teacher shortages, retention, housing, and salaries.

Fisheries: There are numerable issues on the horizon deserving careful attention to our fisheries industry which employs more Alaskans than any other. Bycatch is receiving a lot of notice lately and rightly so. The fishing fleet needs to be encouraged to continue the work they have started on reducing bycatch through technology and fishing strategies. Caps on bycatch have worked well and need to be continued. We have to be careful to not negatively impact such an important industry to Alaska and the nation. The Bycatch Task Force has been directed to come up with some workable solutions and the industry itself is trying to find ways to decrease bycatch. Alaska must be well represented on the North Pacific Council. Additional representatives from Alaska would be advantageous. We need to work with Congress to insure our voice is heard as the largest seafood producer in the country. Additional funding needs to be provided to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute insuring the product we produce is well marketed and respected worldwide. Even in such difficult times our fishing industry and the state have been generous in providing canned salmon to the people of the Ukraine as they face potential starvation this winter. We should all be proud of those efforts. Management of Alaska’s fisheries seems to be often disorderly and out of control. The Board of Fisheries is often conflicted with knowledgeable board members unable to participate. The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council seems unwilling to concentrate on Alaskan issues.

5. If an incumbent, cite three accomplishments you’re proud of during your tenure. If a challenger, what do you think the incumbent didn’t do and what would you attempt to accomplish if elected?


SB33, Value Added for the fishing industry. This bill will have an enormous and long-lasting impact on the fishing industry not only our processors but fishermen as well. It provides tax credits for new and innovative equipment to increase the value of Alaska seafood products in many of our fisheries including pollock, cod, black cod, salmon, and herring.

Education: I enthusiastically support Read by 9 programs. I originally introduced this bill three years ago but it was not passed at that time. I supported Governor Dunleavy and Senator Begich’s efforts which ended in it passing this session. This bill will make a great difference to our children ensuring they can read by the end of third grade. Funds are there to train teachers in the latest approaches to teach reading and providing intervention for students who get behind. Other education bills I have sponsored include addressing teacher shortages by reducing the time it takes to get a certificated teacher from another state into our classrooms. Two bills I have been working on that did not quite make it through the legislature this year include requiring the teaching of civics education so that every student graduating from our schools knows what it means to be an American Citizen, understands our history, and is prepared to participate in civic life. The other bill I intend to continue working on would require coordination between school districts and the University of Alaska so that every Alaskan student will have the opportunity to take college level classes while in high school. I wrote the bill creating the Standing Education Committees. When I arrived in the Legislature education was under the Health, Education and Social Services Committee. That was simply too much for one committee to handle as it included half of our state budget. It made sense to me to create a standing committee for K-12 and Higher Education in both houses. Those committees have done excellent work ever since.

As Chairman of Legislative Council, I was the point person in getting the legislature out of a very costly lease in downtown Anchorage for the Legislative Office Building. I negotiated the purchase of the Wells Fargo building in midtown which continues to save the state millions of dollars every year. We recently sold an unneeded parking lot which further reduces the purchase price, and we profitably lease out much of the building. The current Anchorage LIO has been extremely successful and well used.

I led the Senate for four consecutive years as President at which time we put billions into savings. Those monies were used to fund government for the following eight years. I have served in leadership roles in the Senate for ten years as President (twice), Rules Chair (twice), Majority Leader, and Chairman of Legislative Council (twice).

6. Name a book published you read or listened to in the last year that impressed you.

I read a lot: histories and mysteries. I usually have one of each going at any given time. There are two connected books on history that I would recommend: The White Ship and Matilda Empress Queen Warrior about the succession crisis following the reign of Henry I in England, both good history and great stories. For fun I’d suggest Murder in Chianti about food, wine and of course a mysterious murder.