Rick Whitbeck: Alaska’s long-term financial plan sits in the hands of many eco-left-backed legislators



If you look at the “bright side,” one good thing happened to Alaska’s economy this year.  The American Rescue Plan and the other various Congressional stimulus plans injected over $1.5 billion into the state, providing a short-term life-ring to a budget that was originally projected to be that much in the red.  Now, those a bit more pragmatic know growing government, especially via handouts, is anything but a solid foundation for a stable financial future.

The Alaska Legislature and Executive branches haven’t agreed on much these past four months when it comes to building a longer-term financial plan for the State.  What a “correct’ mix of budget cuts, revenues and constitutional changes might look like when all is said and done is still in flux.

Beginning today, though, a bipartisan group of legislators is supposed to be meeting to develop such a plan; one that will be presented to their peers in a special session set to start early next month.

Read: Legislature’s long-term fiscal working group meets Wednesday

When the names were announced on Tuesday, there was a great deal of commentary on the participants.  A number of them were not on their respective bodies’ finance committees, and for those Alaskans concerned with keeping resource development opportunities front-and-center (count Power The Future on-board with that idea, too!), there is definite concern with the make-up of the eight-person working group.

The members are:

  • Senators Shelley Hughes and Lyman Hoffman with the Senate Majority;
  • Senators Kawasaki and Kiehl with the Senate Minority;
  • Representatives Calvin Schrage and Johnathan Kreiss-Tomkins with the House Majority;
  • Representatives Ben Carpenter and Kevin McCabe with the House Minority.

During their last election cycles, Senators Kawasaki and Kiehl, as well as Representatives Schrage and Kreiss-Tomkins, were heavily endorsed and supported by anti-development groups, including the Alaska Center, which also led the charge for a radical re-write of the oil-tax formula for much of the North Slope. 

The initiative, which was ultimately crushed at the ballot box, would have led to incredible job loss on the Slope, as well as decreased investment from oil and gas companies that ultimately are responsible for billions of dollars of tax revenues each year, as well as one quarter of all private-sector employment throughout Alaska.

Read the rest of this column at Power the Future.


  1. Renewable energy is the future, Alaska has about 30 years to make the transition to a reduced carbon economy. The author’s mis-guided labels are more about culture wars than economic reality. The facts are major corporations and the business community support the transition to renewable resources. The Alaska Republican Party appears to be clueless.

    • Yes, the end of oil is imminent. We will run out by 1967, 1972, 1975, 1987, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2012 (when the world ends), 2025, 2028 (and we really mean it this time). In Prudhoe Bay, optimistic estimates called for 8-9.6 billion barrels recoverable. We’ve removed over 13 billion and current estimates are up to 25 billion total. And there is lots more out there to be found, as evidenced by the long overlooked recent Pikka discovery. Like it or not, oil is here to stay. A report this morning says that coal is coming back big too, especially in India and China.
      Hopefully there will be a dramatic energy breakthrough soon-in Ireland there is a reported discovery that Manganese may be the magical catalyst for breaking hydrogen free of water. But for the imminent future of the rest of our lives, the bet is clearly on carbon energy technology, not unicorn farts and fairy dust.

      • Apparently you do not understand what a reduced carbon economy is, there will always be recoverable oil, the demand will be greatly diminished to rural and remote areas.

        • It is all about energy density. Until something else reaches the energy density of hydrocarbons they cannot be replaced while retaining our lifestyle. PERIOD! For the foreseeable future that means oil and coal. Ideally we could build numerous nuclear power plants on the coasts and run them 100%, 24/7/365, turning water into usable hydrogen, which can compete with energy density. As to the pie-in-the-sky ‘green’ sources, solar and wind are too dirty to build and dispose of, too inefficient, and too unreliable to compete. Much as I would like them to be otherwise (I live off grid) until there is a breakthrough they are money down the toilet and waste into massive landfills. Fusion? Hopefully soon. But for now and the future-oil.

    • Solar panels degrade rapidly, losing efficiency. They end up in land fills because the toxic elements in them are worth only a few dollars per ton, and recycling costs are tens of thousands of dollars per ton.
      Besides that, the costs of manufacture and recycle would take more electricity than they can produce over their useful lifespan. Government subsidies are the only reason they’re being manufactured in the first place.

  2. A “long-term financial plan for State government” has always been a code-word for “income tax.”. It has never been anything else. Wake up Alaskans: the goal of the Left is income redistribution leading to socialism; take money from people that work and give it to people that do not work, with plenty of government employees involved.

    • A sales tax is much more regressive than a income tax. Income taxes are typically graduated for higher incomes. Current tax policy including the 2017 tax cuts actually led to income redistribution to the wealthy.

      • A sales tax is the most fair-those who spend more pay more and everyone has equal skin in the game. Anything else is just Robin Hood robbery. Right now too many pay no taxes, or even worse receive reverse tax money just for existing. If there must be more tax, EVERYONE must pay ‘their fair share’ to participate in the system. Only then will citizens demand accountability of those chosen to govern. Sadly, too many will always look to big brother with hands out, or into someone else’s pocket.

      • From this reply to my comment and your post on renewable energy, above, it appears that have difficulty with the concept of relevance. Perhaps you should start your own blog. The original article was about the “long-term fiscal plan” panel.

  3. ‘In order to save the planet from catastrophic climate change, Americans will have to cut their energy use by more than 90 percent and families of four should live in housing no larger than 640 square feet. That’s at least according to a team of European researchers led by University of Leeds sustainability researcher Jefim Vogel. “Socio-economic conditions for satisfying human needs at low energy use,” in Global Environmental Change, they calculate that public transportation should account for human needs are sufficiently satisfied when each person has access to the energy equivalent of 7,500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per capita. That is about how much energy the average Bolivian uses. With respect to transportation and physical mobility, the average person would be limited to using the energy equivalent of 16–40 gallons of gasoline per year.’
    These leftist central planners know best what we unwashed masses need, and they will impose their ‘sustainable’ utopia upon us ignorant hicks whether we want it or not. And we will become vegetarians as they drive the price of meat beyond the means of most people (priced chicken lately?). The only question I have is how these Marxist radicals garner any informed votes? Low information voters, I guess, who still blame Trump for $4.00 gas because KTUU and ADN say so.

    • Don’t forget that we would revert to the average life expectancy of 1850, which was just over 38 years. This would be after an historic mass die off, like what happened to the dinosaurs.

    • Because she wants her readers to be up on the latest viewpoints, so we can make informed comments, and few of us read ADN.

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