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Tuesday, April 20, 2021
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Ninth circle of Dante’s hell

bronsonformayor

By ANCHORAGE DAILY PLANET

Lawmakers are expected to gavel in the 32nd Alaska Legislature in Juneau on Tuesday. You have to wonder who would want to?

The state is slogging through a COVID-19 pandemic. Its economy is on life support. Its cash reserves are dangerously low after years of profligate spending. Its unemployment rate is through the roof. And oil revenue? Well, it is still in the tank.

As the session unfolds, there will be questions about taxes and what to do about the Permanent Fund dividend, the annual payout that has become the tail wagging the state’s fiscal dog. Can Alaska afford it now? How will it be calculated? Will it be protected in the Alaska Constitution? Will Alaskans tolerate legislative tampering with what has become through the years an expected – no, demanded – sacred entitlement?

To add spice to the legislative stew, Gov. Mike Dunleavy proposes to cut state spending and hand every Alaska two payouts totaling about $5,000 in Permanent Fund dividends, a move that would require a draw of $6.3 billion from the fund’s Earnings Reserve, or more than twice the legally allowed amount.

Add to all that the uncertainty of who actually will be in charge of the circus. As it stands now, it appears both chambers will be led by a bipartisan majorities. You would have better luck herding cats.

We suspect the upcoming legislative session will, in the end, somewhat resemble Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell. You have to wonder why anyone would want to run for legislative office – especially this year – when a reasonable person would be running away.

Stay tuned.

Read more at the Anchorage Daily Planet.

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Latest comments

  • It has been a long time since a reasonable person would want to subject themselves to public office. True, there are a few out there who strive to be public servants, but they are becoming harder and harder to find among the power mongering narcissistic egotistical megalomaniacs in our leadership at all levels. It is time for a reset, but how? Such people live their lives for power and self gratification and likely the current crop will only be replaced by another.

  • If the idiots in office genuinely cared about the future of the state, all the fuel, electric, and other giveaway programs supporting the zero economy sections of the state would be dramatically curtailed. The medicaid expansion was roundly proven to be a economic disaster in the making and Walker did it anyway. Now, 265000 people are on medicaid and it is indeed swamping the Alaska checkbook with red ink.

  • All this continues until the citizens demand the capital move to the road system.

    Even then things probably won’t get better, but at least they can’t hide from you.

  • WOW … Buy stock and supplies in Popcorn, Beef Jerky, Whiskey and TP!
    BTW … Most “reasonable” people (and businesses) have been watching this circus show for many years, with disappointing results, and sadly deciding to ultimately exit.

  • Yes, so much to address with all the problems in the state right now. Yet there was HB-8 prefiled having to do with prohibiting minors from getting the counseling they or their parents might want, because state legislators (and Anchorage Assembly members) are so smart that they can stick their noses into the business of private counseling sessions, and families’ lives.

  • Wow, comments are all over the place on this one!
    Suzanne, please stop referring to the PFD as an “entitlement” – that makes it sound like the State is passing out something that rightfully belongs to the State – NOT SO. The PFD is the people’s money, not the State’s – it was wisely invested for us, and we should reap the dividends according to law – not have them stolen from us, especially to disproportionately spend it. The answer is obvious – cut spending and encourage more oil production – but cutting is politically difficult. Cut spending – and employees – we must. It is beyond my belief that the State bureaucrats would sacrifice infrastructure critical to the State economy to save a handful of extraneous State jobs. First step – cut off Walker’s Medicaid expansion. Second step – cut regulation and regulators. Step three – stop enabling the homeless… give ’em a one-way ticket to california and let them crap in the parking lots there.

    • Technically, this is a column from the Anchorage Daily Planet. – sd

    • Whenever something is subsidized there will become more of it, often by intention since the ones controlling the purse strings crave the glorification going with it: “When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on the support of Paul’ (George Bernard Shaw).

    • It’s the states. If it were mine, then they couldn’t touch it. It’s not yours if you can’t keep it.

  • Perhaps the post Nixon era financial reporting requirements to hold office might have much to do with keeping reasonable people out of the field. I mean prior to that time the State was led by successful business leaders. Men and Women who had experience in management of their money. Many business people do not want to disclose their financial partners and ties, for good reason. I seem to remember something our founders talked a lot about, the right to privacy in their persons , papers, and things…

  • Bc it takes reasonable people to find reasonable solutions. We need more of them running for office.

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