With more than 70,000 Alaskans now having applied for unemployment, getting more cash directly to Alaskans is one of the first of several recommendations by the Governor’s Alaska Economic Stabilization Team.
The team has given Gov. Mike Dunleavy a short-term action plan as the foundation for stabilizing Alaska’s economy and building a long-term economic growth.
The recommendation summary document minces no words on the effect of devastating shutdowns resulting from the COVID-19 coronavirus:
“Alaskans who still have jobs to go back to want to do so as soon as they can do so safely. This week, the Administration announced initial measures in a phased approach to begin re-engaging Alaska’s workforce. While going ‘back to work’ is an option for some, a huge swath of Alaskans are now unemployed and many Alaskan businesses are struggling,” the report says.
The team, led by former Gov. Sean Parnell, a Republican; and former Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, is advising these immediate steps:
- Provide more cash directly to Alaskans (including making emergency payments to Alaskans at fixed amounts across about five months, including the federal stimulus).
- Provide substantially more cash to savable Alaska businesses. “Savable” is defined as those small to mid-sized businesses with solid management, a good business model, but with cash-poor balance sheets. Capital can be made available via loans, loan guaranties, and investment capital.
- Develop and communicate the Administration’s plan for the efficient and effective allocation of the $1.25 billion in federal stimulus dollars authorized and appropriated by the legislature.
- Prioritize and communicate to the federal delegation the state’s infrastructure priorities for potential inclusion in a federal infrastructure stimulus bill.
- Transition Recommendation: Create the Office of Economic Stabilization within the Governor’s Office. The office would serve as the clearinghouse or point of contact for Alaskans to access information about COVID-19 emergency benefits and programs offered by federal, state, and local governments. Ideally, the Office should be led by someone capable of working both from a constituent relations perspective (and interfacing with the Governor’s constituent relations team), and with agencies and commissioners.
Each of the ideas offered by the stabilization team, whose members spoke to more than 2,000 Alaskans over the past few weeks, requires decision-making by elected officials, including the governor and the Alaska Legislature.