Borrowing: Begich says he'll bond for six-year capital spend - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, September 26, 2021
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Borrowing: Begich says he’ll bond for six-year capital spend

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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.

[Read: Stand for Alaska, No on One]

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.

Mike Dunleavy with West Valley High School government class.

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.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • As is standard with any liberal politician, it’s no wonder Begich would want to spend more than what he has. Dunleavy has a firm stance on spending and that’s what’s needed for Alaska, if we are ever going to get out of the spending spiral the Democrats have enacted.

  • Begich’s new owner, Beltrami, really needs Capital money because as soon as the current projects are finished and the appropriated but unexpended Capital appropriations are gone, his building trades guys don’t have any work. We don’t have Ted Stevens pumping federal money into Alaska anymore and even with Ted doing his best none of the major union leaders survived the oil price crash of the mid-Eighties. The guys who were flying around on private jets and who had Vegas showgirls on their arms in the Seventies were one step ahead of the FBI by the mid-Eighties.

    If there is no work for the building trades guys, they pack up the truck and go somewhere to find work, but along the way they tend to leave a trail of the dead bodies of failed union heads. It’s a cruel business.

  • Thank you for your Blog Suzanne. It is a breathe of fresh air compared to other writings that report on current events. ADN just saddles up with the Washington post and prints their political leanings. I am so tired of the political left and their antics. And Art Chance, you nailed it, SPOT ON!!!

  • Thankfully, we will not have to suffer Begich fiscal ideas because he won’t be elected. But going to the Legislature for $2 billion of GO debt (to then take to the voters, as required by law) would result in $4 billion of debt. No region and no district goes without when the dollar source is bond proceeds, and debt authorization cannot be line item vetoed; all or nothing. The $1 billion in oil tax credit bonds would be additional debt. Annual debt service would be $600 million. Because of SB 26 that annual debt service comes right out of the PFD, and as the Alaska Supreme Court has ruled the PFD can be cut, so debt service has the superior call on PF earnings. Now you might think that would about cut the PFD in half, but you would be wrong. Begich wants to cap the PF earnings draw to 4 percent. At the same time, state operations have been growing at 5 to 8 percent a year (more this year, big election year of course). So ladies and gentlemen, with the Begich 4 percent cap, $600 million for debt service and a draw to supplement oil revenues, even with $900 million in the Begich income tax, there is absolutely no PFD. That’s the Begich plan, Stan.

  • Well, Begich you lost me. “The Begich team . . . Was headed to Kotzebue to dig up dirt on Dunlevy.” Sounds like dirty politics to me, and I want no part of it.
    That’s one problem with politics today. No one runs a clean campaign anymore. It’s only about how much can we smear the other guy.

  • What kind of a person says that he is going to Ketchikan to dig up dirt on his opponent…but adirty politician.

    • Sorry Marge, no dirt in Ketchikan, just the rain!!!

  • How do you spell Begich – “Big Spender”.

    I had the opportunity (and frequently the pleasure) of serving two terms on the Anchorage Assembly, while Begich was mayor. These were good times for our city in financial terms. We were prosperous and growing. The Dena’ina Center was built at that time and it has proven a roaring success.

    Far less success for most taxpayers were the Begich contracts with public employees that he negotiated and passed at the assembly on his way out the door (6 year votes-all liberals. 5 no votes-all fiscal conservatives). Those contracts have been a fiscal and an operational disaster for our City.

    Begich was trying to lock up future public union support for whatever office he would seek (Senator, Governor, etc). He didn’t count on the likes of Vince Beltrami of the AFL-CIO who made a deal with Gov. Walker to support him in exchange for untold benefits to state government workers.

    No wonder the state budget under the last two (2) years of the Walker administration was increased by over 13% annually both of those years and the public’s PFD was slashed to pay for government. Idiocy, unless you are the darling of the public unions.

    Now that Walker is gone, Beltrami is desperately trying to shift to supporting Begich. Whjy? Because he thinks/knows that Begich will be every bit as generous to public union employees as was Walker.

    Alaskan’s, let’s use some good sense and elect Mike Dunleavy, a fiscal conservative who respects your rights to a full PFD and will do all he can to reduce the costs of state government.

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