Protesters notwithstanding... - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, December 15, 2019
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Protesters notwithstanding…

THE SHOW MUST GO ON: BUDGET DIALOGUE AT 49TH STREET BREWERY

As expected, about 300 pro-tax, anti-Permanent Fund dividend Alaskans chanted and ranted, grandstanded and reprimanded the governor of Alaska outside the 49th Street Brewery in Anchorage on Tuesday evening. It was a beautiful evening for a protest.

Inside a full house of other Alaskans, a notably older crowd, was politely listening to Gov. Michael Dunleavy and his team describe the Dunleavy fiscal plan, how the state came to run out of cash, and why such drastic budget cut measures are needed now.

 

The Dunleavy team — including the governor, OMB Director Donna Arduin, Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, Revenue Commissioner Bruce Tangeman — gathered on the stage and went through a program that had a series of slides full of charts and diagrams.

Dunleavy started at the beginning of the oil boom, when Alaska was rolling in money and spent it like there was no tomorrow. But the spending really got going once the price of oil spiked in 2006. But the prices started crashing in 2013.

 

Commissioner Tangeman was up next, and he laid out the alternatives — Alaska can drain the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account, enact taxes and cut the Permanent Fund dividend, or cut spending, essentially back to 2006 levels.

Attorney General Clarkson detailed the three constitutional amendments that the Administration says will help stabilize Alaska going forward by protecting the dividend from future political raids, prevent an income tax without a vote of the people, and put a cap on state spending. The Administration wants Alaskans to vote on all three.

BOTTOM LINE

For many years after oil was flowing through the pipeline, Alaska’s budget stayed remarkably stable, with about a 2.5 percent growth per year. Then, in about 2006, the budget increased by 15 percent.

If Alaska lawmakers had kept the level of annual spending increases to 2.5 percent instead of the spike, Alaska would have $130 billion in the Permanent Fund now, instead of the $65 billion it actually has, and it would be generating more than $6 billion a year for state services — plenty to do the job.

Instead, the state plowed through $29 billion, as lawmakers started to horse trade away Alaska’s future in exchange for special spending in their home districts.

DECIDE FOR YOURSELF: WATCH THE PRESENTATION

Outside, protesters were having none of it. They’d made up their minds. Led by Anchorage Assembly member Forrest Dunbar, they chanted and clapped as instructed: “Save our Ferries. Clap. Clap. Clap-Clap. Clap”

Some banged on the door of the brewery to upset the proceedings inside, and a couple of protesters burst into the room and unfurled a “RECALL DUNLEAVY” banner. Dunleavy gave them a nonchalant look as they were ushered out.

Although it’s not clear the protesters outside learned anything from the presentation other than some old Berkeley protest chants from the 1960s, they can still watch it at the Anchorage Daily News’ live feed here.

Today, the governor is heading to Nome, where he will continue explaining his plan to those who are interested in listening. The 4:30 pm event is free and open to the public but registration is required and seating is limited. Register here.

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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

  • Are you sure the Democrats didn’t fly some of the protestors up from Portland?

    I’m surprised they didn’t burst in yelling that Dunleavy is a agent of Russia.

    After all, they are using the same blueprint as the national Democratic party (and their mainstream media propaganda arm) have been using on president Trump for the past 2 1/2 years.

    I wonder how that will work out for them?

    • The piggies aren’t finished eating at the Walker Trough….at least not without a fight but even though they are homegrown it is nothing that a one way ticket to Portland or Caracas Venezuela wouldn’t solve

  • I went to the event. Protesters were very ineffective. Didn’t notice them any more that say a little wind.
    Dunleavy and team were very credible and compelling. I think he was a very good chance of getting a lot of what he wants – hopefully it all.

  • I like that chart. It appears that the extraordinary spending levels from 2005 to 2015 have already been curtailed.
    We can always seek to become more efficient and cut the budget further. Every $300 million in cuts is another $500 in your Dividend. But cutting $1.6 billion is ridiculous and is a phony number anyway. The Legislature is on a good path so far towards balancing the budget. We will see if they can really do it without trickery or raiding savings again.
    I voted for Mike but I hated his Dividend philosophy and told him so at the State Fair.
    We can balance the budget, restore our savings account, and still have revenue left over for an individual benefit (reformed Dividend) without new taxes. Let’s let reason prevail……

    • Maybe you’re mistaking the revenue line for the expenditures line. There’s still a ~2bn gap between the two.

      • I believe that is a mirage because it does not count the 5.25% draw from the PFER ($2.9 billion this year) which is actually “revenue” but the Dividend crowd doesn’t like to admit that. I am assuming also they are not showing Dividend expenditures either but can’t tell. But that accounts for a $2 billion difference on the chart.

  • Let’s get real here.
    Governor Dunleavy’s austere budget proposal is going nowhere. It exaggerates the fiscal problem to pursue a false Dividend legal and political philosophy as an entitlement. And need 3 Constitutional Amendments to boot!
    Mike, Clem, Orin, Rick, Dick, and Bill – what a law firm! They just had their butt spanked by an Alaska Supreme Court Decision. And still back for more!

    • I went to the event and thought the arguments were persuasive. The math seemed pretty straightforward. Do you disagree with the math? The CBR is gone in 14 months and the PFD in 3 years if nothing done.
      The snacks were good as well.

      • Yes, I absolutely disagree with their “math”. Last year we used $2.7 billion from the PFER which is now considered “revenue”. We also “borrowed” $700 million from the CBR which represents the actual “deficit”. The Dividend cost $1 billion. So last year’s dividend was paid 70% by borrowing from the CBR. If the Dividend was only $500 we would have balanced the budget. Cutting is great if you can do it but cutting $1.6 billion from current spending is irrational. If we cut only $300 million we can still afford a $1000 Dividend. The Legislature understands the math – let’s see what happens.

    • Wealth distribution to all Alaskans, not just the entitled state workers. Let’s level the playing field.

      • Entitled to a paycheck for the work they provide? You can apply too. Or can’t you?

  • I was on the ground both Sunday and Tuesday. Really, the whole thing resembled a popularity contest to see whose talking points could generate the loudest applause. On Sunday, Forrest Gumpbar was manning a table pushing “Save Our State”, a bit of sloganeering all too reminiscent of “Save Our Senate” a decade and a half ago. I’m still registered to vote in Fairbanks. Despite my spelling their names correctly, they wrote out postcards that I could send to Sen. “Kawaski” (he’s Japanese and Polish?) and Rep. “LeBron” (James? Well, Bart is also known for his prowess in basketball). I was out on the street Tuesday but didn’t attend the actual event, having left for my usual 5:30 meeting around the time Gumpbar took the stage. At one point, I walked down the back side on Christensen Drive. The smaller group of protesters there were instructing their group to give pedestrians plenty of room and not physically accost anyone, likely due to the excellent vantage point APD had. However, they were heckling people even if they weren’t walking down there to enter the brewery. They just couldn’t understand that I walked down there to see who I could see. Before leaving, I came across a flyer advertising a fundraiser for Oliver Schiess featuring all the superstars of liberalism at the home of Doug and Wendy something-or-another (off Upper O’Malley, far from the district Schiess is running in). Doug and Wendy? What an unfortunate name for that couple. Remember SNL in the early 80s, particularly that one sketch with Joe Piscopo and Robin Duke? “We’re Doug and Wendy Whiner!”

  • Maybe we should stop talking about them or even giving them any screen time. They mean nothing. They are just noise. If they can’t even have the decency to be involved in the discussion through active listening and adult conversation, then they aren’t even part of the solution. It is a “go to the negative” narrative every, single time. Forrest Dunbar should be ashamed of himself as an assembly member to even be involved in such sophomoric behavior. Hey Forrest: please stop and think for a moment of what it is like when rabid dissenters disrupt you at the assembly. Don’t you prefer adult discussion over this mess?
    .
    The problem with negative people is that they have a problem for every solution. Childish behavior doesn’t work. Let’s start moving towards solutions, please?

  • I think the governor is on the right track. When times were good and the oils bucks were flowing in, social programs started creeping in, like cockroaches after the lights go out. The money is not flowing in, the previous governor (thief) stole a large chunk of two years of PFD’s to appease his good buddies in the state employee union. The lights are now on and the cockroaches expect the home owners to feed them. Naaa.. Cut it.. Education- cut it (Alaska is #2 in education spending with no ROI). Social programs- cut them (they attract more parasites to this state). Public assistance- AUDIT HARD. 8 years is the max on collecting. Public assistance employees need to follow the letter of the law or find a new job in the private sector (no re-hire rights). Yes, I know about your stacking the deck with numbers even when you knew it was wrong. UA- you have grant land, use it or sell it. You folks got too big for your britches. Consolidating the community colleges under the UA banner was a bad idea. You took community out of the college. DEC- cut it. You guys act like the EPA nazis. Remember the Hatcher Pass Lodge septic issue and someone from DEC bought the lodge for a song? DOT and the troopers- no cuts. You folks actually provide a usable service Alaskans need.

    Capital? Move it. It costs millions to Alaskans for employees to fly back and forth to the capital. We would like them closer so we can pop in and visit our employees (legislators) without having to shell out the shekels to see them. Besides, Juneau is owned by Washington state, not Alaska.

    • Excellent commentary Herman Nelson, couldn’t agree more.

    • Well, I was on board with all until I got to the part about Hatcher Pass Lodge Septic issue and someone from DEC buying for a song? What lodge are you taking about as there has been no transfer of ownership for the actual Hatcher Pass Lodge and Hap Wurlitzer has owned the lodge since the late 60’s and still owns and operates it. I think we may actually have to clone him….?.

  • Great writing . Protesters, not with standing. Slick title made me laugh.

  • More protestors outside. Looks like they took time off from work to be there, probably gave up family game night as well. More of those “activ-ists” being outspoken and active again, and there organized, go figure.

  • I don’t think there is anything louder than a toddler screaming for something he/she perceives you have taken away……these protestors sound quite a bit like toddlers. Amazing how the media seems to be able to multiply them exponentially in their coverage ….. it must be the crying.

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