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?
As a candidate for State Senate, I will leave the Governors budget to those aspiring to that office. When speaking of majorities in either the House or Senate we must be clear on how functional they are, effective leadership being a key tenant.
In ONE of the special sessions of 2021 a Fiscal Policy Working Group was convened. The diversity of this group and its ability to come to a comprehensive approach in its final recommendations should get everyone’s attention. It’s worth reviewing:
I am supportive of, and the people should demand, our elected officials earnestly engage in the legislative process to address these recommendations and find common ground in enacting a long-term fiscal plan that provides stability within our government and instils confidence in Alaskans.
I agree with the groups overarching finding that whatever is done needs to be done in a comprehensive way. This shows Alaskans that a thoughtful, deliberative, and thorough process was used before bringing forward changes that may affect their home budgets. I am unlikely to support a piece-meal approach considering the disfunction and lack of forward thinking it represents.
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?
Should the people of Alaska choose to call a constitutional convention my charge will be to help structure it so elected delegates can engage in a robust public process that produces thoughtful, well founded, recommendations to the voters of Alaska on whether to amend our current State Constitution. I alone cannot call a convention or change the constitution. It is a process. It’s the people’s prerogative and I will trust them one way or the other on this matter.
Predetermining the course and outcome of a peoples process deliberately designed to ensure they have recourse to reexamine the foundation of the laws that govern them is a disservice to Alaskans. Do I have my reservations? Yes. But fear is the greatest obstacle to progress. I believe that had our legislators been more responsive to the people’s concerns then we would not be facing a tail wind pushing us toward a convention.
3. Name three issues affecting Senate District C.
1. Homer Large Vessel Harbor Expansion Project
2. Coastal erosion affecting the Homer Spit/Sterling Hwy
3. Seldovia Ferry Dock and Jakolof Bay dock
4. How would you address those issues?
All these represent important infrastructure projects that provide and protect economic growth and stability. As a Senator I will actively work with the communities within Districts 5 and 6 and advocate for the State to partner and act, where appropriate, in helping them achieve their priorities. There are many other issues within Senate District C that merit attention of the State. I focused on some that are specific to Homer News’ base.
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?
In 22 years of service I am confident that my opponent has accomplishments he can point to and be proud of. But in my six years on the Homer City Council all I experienced with our current senator was a sense of disinterest when it came to representing the priorities of the entire district. My commitment is to be informed and ready to be at the table in Juneau for all in the District. This means spending meaningful time in in each community. He has one of the largest staffs in the legislature and can’t even staff a position in the LIO in Homer that represents half of his district. That must change.
For decades Alaska has continued to flounder through boom-and-bust oil years without any long-term fiscal approach to budgeting. Within the last seven years we burned through $15 billion in savings (deficit spending) and have emerged from one high priced oil year suffering from amnesia yet again. This is unacceptable and our current senator standing by to see what others may come up with can no longer stay the storm. My commitment is to be actively working with the people, legislative colleagues and the governor to resolve this mess ASAP.
Alaskans were told that a reduction in their PFD payments was because government needed the money for services. Well, they didn’t spend much of it…In 2020 they transferred $4 billion from the ERA to the Permanent Fund principle. This is because our current senator believes that if we can accelerate building the fund to $100 billion+ then we are home free with the POMV approach to budgeting. Except that is completely absent a policy on spending. The fund value has gone down over $10 billion since the end of the last session…now what? Jay Hammond’s vision of incorporating a dividend into the Permanent Fund was to provide the people with some leverage on the legislature to control spending and curtail any abuse of the fund. Diluting Alaskans share is counter to part of its purpose. Again, I am committed to working with the people, legislators and governor to get a sound comprehensive fiscal policy in place.
6. Name a book published you read or listened to in the last year that impressed you.