Mike Dunleavy holds a card saying he opposes income and sales taxes, while Begich’s card shows he supports them.
FAIRBANKS DEBATE: BEGICH SUPPORTS INCOME TAX, SALES TAX
At the gubernatorial forum in Fairbanks today, candidate Mark Begich told the crowd that as governor he would borrow heavily through a general obligation bond to grow a $2 billion capital budget that would be stretched over six-years.
Such a plan would extend debt past his hoped-for first term as governor, and also ensure his influence into a future governor’s term.
He said he would have voters weigh in on the bond with a mail-in ballot, similar to how Anchorage conducts its elections.
Begich also said he supports an income tax and a sales tax, although later he qualified that by saying he supports a seasonal sales tax.
Begich disputed Republican candidate Mike Dunleavy’s assertion that the operating budget can be trimmed and government can be made more efficient.
Unaware that the governor has a line-item veto power, Begich argued that the governor only has the ability to accept or veto the entire budget.
That was when Dunleavy’s experience in the Legislature came into play; he was much more knowledgeable about the budget process than Begich appeared to be. Begich served as mayor of Anchorage and as a U.S. senator for one term.
Begich also doubled down on his stance on Ballot Measure 1, saying he supports it. But he qualified that by saying he was just one vote of many, and as governor he would have the ability to fix the problems that the anti-development ballot measure would create.
When asked if he was for or against Ballot Measure 1, Dunleavy said, “I am a very, very firm no. No one has to guess where I am.” Dunleavy had just received the endorsement of the Calista Corp., which is trying to launch the Donlin Mine. Calista moved its endorsement over from Gov. Bill Walker after Walker dropped out of the race.
The crowd of business leaders from around the state seemed much more warm toward Dunleavy, but about 10-15 percent of them were Begich supporters, if applause is any gauge.
Toward the end of the debate, moderator Andrew Jensen asked the two what costume they thought they’d use on Halloween to best represent their campaigns.
Begich went first, rambled on, and didn’t answer.
Then they asked Dunleavy the same question, and he turned the table on Begich and said, “I have one for you — You should go as Dracula because you would suck the life out of Alaska.” Begich’s supporters booed, while the rest of the crowd laughed.
Dunleavy went on to say that he would go as an “honest broker” because that is what he is very good at.
After the event ended, Dunleavy gathered with a group of students from West Valley High School who were watching the forum as part of their studies. He ended up taking a group photo with them and answering questions for a long time — a former school teacher who was clearly in his element engaging with students in a comfortable, approachable manner.
Dunleavy held a fundraiser in Fairbanks on Wednesday evening, and raised $18,000 for his campaign in an event that was shoulder-to-shoulder full.
At the same time, Begich sent out an email saying his ActBlue fundraising letter had only raised two-thirds of what he had hoped for this week. He was asking for $3 donations.
After the debate, the Begich team was overheard saying they are heading to Kotzebue to dig up dirt on Dunleavy, who spent over 19 years as an educator in rural Arctic Alaska, many of those years in Kotzebue.