By PAT RACE
I want to thank Must Read Alaska for lending me a few pixels to share this short animation I made about the State of Alaska’s fiscal situation.
I grew up in Juneau and studied computer science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks before moving back home and starting a small business with my college roommate. I’m the third generation of my family to graduate from UAF so I’m naturally a little concerned for the future of the school under the Gov. Michael Dunleavy budget proposal.
My dad is a long-time Republican who grew up in the Nyac mining district, northeast of Bethel, and Juneau. He ran against Rep. Beth Kerttula a few times and I helped with his campaign. My mom is a Democrat who served as a public librarian for 33 years and now she’s a happily retired yoga instructor. Like most Alaskans, I’m somewhere in the middle of that ideological spectrum.
I’m proudly registered nonpartisan and I think Alaska needs conservative fiscal hawks just as much as we need progressives advocating against corporate colonialism. The state’s interests are varied and the best answers are often found through hard questions and earnest compromise.
I’m not a fan of the proposed Dunleavy budget. It’s a tough hit to services like the Marine Highway System and K-12 education in addition to shifting costs to municipal governments. I don’t think Alaskans are going to get behind it.
I like what I’m seeing in the Legislature in response to the Dunleavy budget. Democrats and Republicans are working together in the House, and Senate Republicans haven’t been pitching softballs.
I might be barking up the wrong tree by writing an op-ed for Must Read Alaska, but this fiscal conversation is the biggest question facing our state. And I know Must Read Alaska’s readers ultimately care about Alaska and want what’s best for our future.
Personally, I believe the State provides valuable and essential services that can’t be delivered by the private sector. I believe we have a corresponding obligation to our fellow Alaskans and I think we need to step up and pay for shared services through an income tax.
I know there are other answers and other perspectives and I look forward to reading your comments. Even if you view it critically, I’d appreciate you sharing this video. I hope it can be a good gateway into this discussion.
Editor Suzanne Downing asked that I disclose the funding source for this project and I think that’s completely appropriate. This project was funded by Rep. Justin Parish of Juneau before he left office. He allocated $5,000 from his office expense account, which covered about 50 hours of my production time. My crew and I put at least 250 hours into the project.
While they are State funds, office expense accounts are used at the discretion of legislators and frequently cover constituent newsletters and travel to partisan conferences or trainings. Up until 2013 office expenses were also used as extra cash income.
I had help from Rep. Parish’s staff and former Walker Administration Tax Director Ken Alper in collecting the data, most of which came from the Revenue Sources Book.
There were no editorial shackles and this wasn’t a part of a partisan strategy. What you’re hearing in the film is my voice in both a literal and editorial sense.
Pat Race is a Juneau businessman, entrepreneur, and artist.