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Harry McDonald: Legislature deserves credit


While the recently completed legislative session was at times messy, the final outcome was a good one: a balanced budget, a reasonable and affordable dividend, badly needed additional funding for education and child care, and a decent capital budget. 

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A special session shouldn’t have been necessary, but at least it was only one day instead of 30 days. 

Next year’s operating budget is based on a price of $73/bbl oil by the Department of Revenue in its Spring Forecast. We all know that the price will likely be higher or lower than that estimate, but the Legislature was wise in not dipping into its $2.3 billion budget reserve as the use of those savings may be necessary if the price of oil drops below the forecast. 

It is also important to note that the legislature chose not to raise or implement new taxes to support the budget. That demonstrates that we don’t need new or higher taxes if we continue to use discipline in our overall spending, which includes the dividend. 

Implementing a statewide sales tax hurts everyone, most particularly low income and rural Alaskans, and would be a significant drag on the state’s recovering economy. 

I believe most Alaskans reject the notion of an income tax simply to provide a higher taxable dividend. 

Increasing oil and gas taxes is counterproductive as they will reduce our future income by discouraging new oil production even while we have major untapped deposits. 

The key to future fiscal planning is to simply continue what the legislature just did – produce a balanced budget with reasonable state services and an affordable dividend without using excess Permanent funds or our savings accounts. If we stick to that formula, we are not likely to need new taxes at least in the near term. It is also the key to allowing our anemic state economy to recover and hopefully prosper in the future. 

Harry McDonald is the former owner and CEO of Carlile Transportation Systems and retired from Saltchuk Resources in 2018.



  1. I’m sorry, credit for what, exactly?

    Failure to cut a bloated government?

    Failure to follow a legal requirement to provide a statutory PFD before funding themselves?

    Failure to do their jobs on time? Again.

    Failure to tie some measure of accountability for insane spending on a failed public education system?

    Failure to cut UA spending and make them use the substantial land holds they have to fund themselves as intended?

    Failure to take substantial steps toward protecting our civil liberties?

    They don’t deserve credit for reading the tea leaves regarding an income tax. They chose not to commit suicide.

    If you want to give them credit for failing to do their jobs, fine. They didn’t do their jobs exceeding well.


    • MA:
      Good comment.
      Mr. McDonald…..a balanced budget….on the backs of every Alaska resident. A full PFD is coded in the statutes. Your so-called balanced budget includes a violation of state law. Your article needs redressing and your lack of honesty comes through in your own words.

  2. Just trying to figure out what they did FOR us instead of TO us. We should be used to what goes on in Juneau.

  3. The writer is obviously making a living as a lobbyist. What a bunch of nonsense.
    1. They shouldn’t be using the PFD period. Thanks Bill Walker, you communist.
    2. Not a penny more to education until it is completely reformed. Money will not fix it, accountability to parents and the taxpayers will. Educate, not indoctrinate. No agendas or politics in our schools, just reading, writing, math, English, science (not junk science) and American History.
    3. Reduce the size of Alaska’s government and reduce our dependency on the Federal Government.
    4. Open the flood gate to energy production and rare earth mineral production.

  4. “Legislature deserves credit”? For what?

    Refusing to follow the law and follow through on a full PFD?

    Refusing to look at any spending cuts to a bloated education bureaucracy that is void of any accountability for results?

    Refusing to protect children of any age on issues ranging from life to sexual indoctrination to sport?

    Refusing to insure all of our rights in state law what was enshrined in the Nuremberg code of 1948 regarding forced medical experimetation?

    Your article sir was a bunch of pablum. If you believe you are conservative in any way you sadly mistaken. You are part of the problem. This article would be a more proper fit in the ADN, Reporting From Alaska, or a similar rag. There are your friends.

  5. Fair points here Harry. But, I still think we need to “Raise The Bar” of expectations of our elected legislators. They can certainly be more efficient and frugal, as well as more strategic in opening up remote areas for resource development. Also, we need to keep pushing “HARD” for the Susitna Dam Project, as that would pay enormous dividends for decades to come.

  6. “ Badly needed additional funding for education”? Who is Harry trying to fool!! Educating in the public system in Alaska is at astronomical levels compared with any public educational system. And what are the outcomes? Bottom of the barrel by every measure!!

  7. Oh yes, by all means they deserve credit and more money. Let all raise a big glass of bud light and give thanks to our outstanding legislature. Please

  8. What exactly did the politicians do right? They continue to lie and steal from the Alaskan people. Way to big government size and budget does not help.

  9. Harry says “It is also important to note that the legislature chose not to raise or implement new taxes to support the budget.” Taking the statutory PFD from every Alaskan is taxation.

    Harry says “Implementing a statewide sales tax hurts everyone, most particularly low income and rural Alaskans, and would be a significant drag on the state’s recovering economy.” Taking the statutory PFD from every Alaskan hurts every Alaskan, most particularly low income and rural Alaskans, and is a significant drag on the state’s recovering economy.

    Harry says, “I believe most Alaskans reject the notion of an income tax simply to provide a higher taxable dividend.” I believe most Alaskans reject the notion that government knows how best to spend our money and should seize the statutory PFD to spend how they see fit.

  10. Harry, if violating the constitution is your metric for a “good session”, your definition is troubling at best. Alaska has a bicameral legislature. The legislature has a duty to pass a budget. The budget is a bill. Bills “must” IAW the constitution be run through and voted on by both bodies and there is a minimum timeline for that. The senate NEVER handed the capital budget to the House to work on. And the senate held onto the Operating budget until the very last day (after holding it for a full month), then stuffing the capital budget into the same bill creating the “turducken”. That meant the senate transmitted the “bill” to the House with less than one day. No time to vet it through the finance committee and/or subcommittees, no time to look at and amend changes made to the operating budget by the senate by any House member. They were simply told “take it or leave it” but we (the senate) refuse to follow the law and allow you to have this bill to work on. This was a session which destroyed the process by which the checks and balances of a two body legislature have a negotiation and eventually a conference committee to hammer out differences. This was a session that turned Alaska into a dictatorship run by a handful of senators in “leadership”. This was, to put it mildly, a travesty and decimation of our republican form of government. The senate silenced the House on the one constitutional duty every legislator has and that’s to review, debate, amend and ultimately vote yes or no on the various budget bills each and every year. And many of the senators did it with a smile on their face while voting down the one amendment in the senate which would have stripped out their 67% – $34,000 per year per legislator pay raise. They prioritized the government & public sector over the private sector – refused to enact a comprehensive fiscal plan solving our long term fiscal issues (instead relying on “hope” we’ll just do the right thing each year), – destroyed the time honored process of producing a budget – and raised their pay an exorbitant amount. A successful session? Quite the opposite.

  11. Harry, you gonna come back and give us a report card on how well education did with the extra money. We are still waiting for a report on past increases for education and everything else. To spend taxpayer’s money and not disclose results is unethical. I must assume Harry is unethical because there is no mention of results past.
    “We gotta make payroll ” -Bert Stedman.

  12. The legislature just gave themselves a hell of a raise that was in no measure deserved. This dissertation is absolute crap and references not one example of how this legislature’s performance is representative of the citizens that live in Alaska. More pandering to certain groups at the expense of most of the rest of the population.

  13. Harry McDonald sounds like he’s part of the same problem, he part of the crowd who wants who thinks the pfds belong to the state without recognizing its goal to keep Alaska a little more away from that poverty line. The pfd isn’t the enemy. It’s a tool used for widows, single mothers, low income elders, so they have a bonus added on top of their hard work during that year or living frugally being a semi or full retired low income elder living at elder low income housing. He Part of the same crowd whom don’t see anything wrong that governments budget don’t match Alaska populations paying billions of dollars in a budget of a state the size of 700,000 its been too much. We can only infer most of the budget is lining the group’s crowds pockets at the low income elders, widows, and single mothers expense.

  14. Harry McDonald, you patronizing MF, don’t come on here telling us we should essentially be grateful that your elitist buddies in Juneau didn’t take our whole PFD.

  15. Excellent article Harry. When I see the troopers leave the MatSu and a locally elected and paid for Sheriffs Department replace them, and roads being built with Borough money rather than State money, I will then believe your critics actually know anything.

  16. Basically, most Alaskans view the Alaska legislators as a joke. No deference given. A bunch of zeros who travel to Juneau to divide up a pot of cash every year and give it to state government and themselves. They don’t follow the law on the books. A bunch of clowns. And their fellow Alaskans all know it.

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