Unprecedented events require big, bold responses - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, June 6, 2020
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Unprecedented events require big, bold responses

THIS IS THE MOMENT TO GO BIG, FIGHT HARD FOR ALASKA’S FUTURE

By SEAN PARNELL and MARK BEGICH

As Alaskans, we are all together in this fight against COVID-19 and the resulting economic battle for jobs and our future. The two of us have served in statewide office on opposite sides of the political aisle for decades, but we are determined to work together for Alaska’s future in this temporary, but severe storm.

Since being asked by Gov. Mike Dunleavy to co-lead the Alaska Economic Stabilization Team, we have worked day and night gathering information and listening to more than a thousand Alaskans who own and work in virtually every type of business or sector of our state.

We understand the level of suffering some Alaskans are enduring and the magnitude of the economic storms we face ahead. Unemployment applications have soared in the past two weeks and many business owners, small and large, face excruciating choices.

This is such a fluid situation that there will be no standard report, no meetings around a conference room table somewhere, just real-time daily action to listen by phone or videoconference to Alaskans so that we can augment what the state is doing and help bring the needs and ideas of Alaskans to decision-makers who can make a difference.

Because we have spoken with so many Alaskans we not only see the hard realities, but also the opportunities for our future in every Alaskan. Nearly everyone we have spoken to expresses both concern about the situation at hand and confidence that the state’s economy can be stabilized in the months ahead.

Unprecedented events, however, require a big, bold response. Courageous action must be taken now not only to save lives, but also to save jobs. Our political leaders must make big decisions now: not tomorrow, not in a few months, but today. Ensuring the health of Alaskans and stabilizing the state’s economy are not mutually exclusive and must be addressed in tandem.

First, Alaskans need cash now, and they are going to need it across the next three to five months. Rents and mortgages, car payments, grocery bills, and childcare costs don’t go away even when the economy grinds to a halt. To stabilize the economy, we must get as much cash as possible into the hands of impacted Alaskans and Alaska businesses across several months.

The governor and some legislators appear ready to come up with a one-time emergency payment. This needs to happen now, and frankly, we think many Alaskans need three to four emergency payments spread out one per month for several months. A one-time jolt of cash is nice, but having several months of certainty provides breathing room for Alaskans to pay bills and plan a way back onto their feet.

That understanding, in part, is why White House and Congressional leaders have reached a tentative agreement to extend unemployment benefits for four months, significantly increase the amount paid each week to make employees whole, and likely provide a one-time payment for most working families, as well.

The state’s emergency payments should be coordinated to land across these months to maximize both state and federal funds’ stabilizing impact for Alaskans.

Next, Alaska’s businesses are hurting and without urgent help, many will not survive. In our first list of recommendations, we asked the governor to look at the tools available to provide necessary cash to Alaska businesses. Unleashing the power of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, for example, through new loan guarantees and emergency lending programs for working capital and business interruption dollars, will be critical in these early days.

Third, federal, state and local governments need to pay their bills now to Alaskans and our businesses. Alaskans and Alaska businesses should not have to wait for government payments. Tax refunds, reimbursements of every kind, payments to contractors for their work, payments from government programs to health care providers, including the Tribal health system — all must be paid now without delay.

We understand the cash call on the state being proposed is big, it’s bold. However, big threats require a huge response. This is the moment to fight hard and to go big for economic stability to preserve our future.

Throughout our combined years of public service and today in our conversations with Alaskans, we have been inspired to see the courage, ingenuity and willingness to help each other. It is this same spirit and character of our people that will bring us through. That is why we also ask those who are able to consider helping family, friends, or neighbors and to support Alaska’s nonprofits that provide critical services statewide.

Together, we are laying down our differences, putting politics aside and doing what’s right for Alaska. We know that if every Alaskan joins together today to fight these temporary storm waters, tomorrow will dawn brighter because we walked side by side through it, as Alaskans.

Sean Parnell, a Republican, served as the 10th governor of Alaska. Mark Begich, a Democrat, served in the U.S. Senate and is a former mayor of Anchorage. This column first appeared in the Anchorage Daily News.

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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

  • Economic aid or Socialism??

    • Does it matter really in a time like this?

  • Why not just transfer $8 BILLION stolen dollars back to the ERA and make $1000 monthly payments to the rightful shareholders, being most everybody in the State.

    Just think, we have the bureaucracy and mechanisms in place to return the stolen PFDs. We don’t need to invent a new source of revenue.

    Will Rogers once said, ” put the money in the hands of the poorest and the richest will have it before nightfall”. He called it the trickle up effect.

    The Legislature needs to repay the PFDs. When the people survive, the State will survive.

    • Totally agree.

      • Hard to believe the Edgemon/ Giessel crew will allow any ERA money to the populace at large. They owe to the govt unions and state employees in return for the monies those entities gave them!

  • “Together, we are laying down our differences, putting politics aside and doing what’s right for Alaska”. Right here in print from Sean and Mark! Undoubtedly the Sean and Mark show has pals in the Alaska Legislature. Perhaps they can take their kumbaya show to the clowns in Juneau and have them put down their differences to do what is right for Alaska. It is clear their own personal agenda’s are driving the train.

    • Coming Monday to a bank near you. Stay tuned………..

  • So, we have an Anchorage former Mayor who looted the MOA treasury and picked the taxpayers’ pockets to give sweetheart contracts to his union owners, and as US Senator cast the deciding vote for ObamaCare, and a former Governor of Alaska who could not impose any restraint on State spending as special interests pilfered the seed corn, and couldn’t defend himself against the Democrat/ADN gaslighting operation with the fake National Guard scandal, and we’re supposed to listen to anything they say on public policy? If I were making a plan to deal with Alaska’s current malaise, the last people I would want advice from are Mark Begich and Sean Parnell.

    • + 1

    • +1

  • This whole Chinese Virus thing is just another Dog and Pony show to Bankrupt America and remove Donald Trump as President. How long before full Martial Law is declared?? Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

    • Just a few days on martial law in the hot zones. Not a dog and pony. People are dead and dying.

  • Petty cash, loans, and shakedowns for debts?

    I’ve had cornflakes bolder than this….

    And yet, no mention of

    1. Restructuring the government, governmental relationships and contracts to solve problems that cost us money?
    2. Restructuring the government to be leaner and more efficient?
    3. Reducing/removing regulations that are impediments to work and investment?
    4. Incentives for new startups and value added industries, local buy, hire and development?
    5. No new public private partnerships?
    6. No recognition of infrastructure and supply chain need? prioritizing and expediting lessons learned?

    And which pack of partisans will decide who gets these loans?

    Not simply pathetic and milquetoast, their suggestions are more of the same pandering cronyism and a continuation of the counterproductive activities that represent a comprehensive failure to plan for a sustainable future for Alaska.

    And BTW, if you didnt notice, not bold at all.

  • I have so little faith that the current legislators even know what the right thing is anymore.

  • I know and respect both of the authors. I am also aware that the Late Great Senator Ted was fond of declaring at various times that some decisions were based on the notion of “doing what is right for Alaska.” That phrase feels good when we say it but IMO is basically meaningless or at best highly subjective. Is bigger government “right for Alaska?” Is centralizing more power in the hands of government “right for Alaska?” Is increasing the amount of money spent by (pick agency or program) “right for Alaska?” The answer to each question is, “it depends.” Gentlemen – I know it probably felt good to write this phrase but rational governance demands more. We need to be transparent and honest about WHY selected policies or results may be GOOD for Alaska. That is going to be better in the long run for Alaska.

  • Get you gone, Mark and Jean!!! You are has-beens and failures to the citizens of this state… Get out of the way and let the “good citizens” that don’t have your bad track records work for the benefit of the communities. Go sit down and shut up!! Sorry that Dunleavy doesn’t have better judgment in picking people to fill positions.

  • “Rents and mortgages, car payments, grocery bills, and childcare costs don’t go away even when the economy grinds to a halt.” This should be amended to say grocery bills and childcare costs don’t go away. The rest have gone away, or more accurately been postponed, many banks and credit unions have taken this unprecedented action this without government telling them to. Childcare should be taken care of, for the most part, by the parents…horror of all horrors parents taking care of their own children!!! That leaves grocery bills, unemployment, food pantries, federal stimulus checks, charity, neighbors helping neighbors, Alaskans looking out for each other, etc., etc., etc.
    .
    We should be getting the PFD owed to us because it is the right thing to do, not because there is a global pandemic and we’ve shutdown a majority of our commerce. This will hopefully be a lesson for our electorate, some of our elected representatives are not representing their constituents…we should all remember who they are.
    .
    Thanks to Sean Parnell and Mark Begich for putting aside politics during this time and trying to help.

  • Hey, both Parnell and Begich on the same page . . . holy cow!
    Not only that, but they agreed with me, Costello and others who have advocated for paying the PFD monies and this year’s PFD over a period of months to mitigate the financial hardship due to the slowing of the economy due to the COVID response.
    Interesting times.

  • Our Carpetbaggers have to take care of all the family and friends they helped import, from their home regions to Alaska, to insure their core voting block. Last time we had an economic meltdown the previous Carpetbaggers voting block moved south, and their political careers in Alaska evaporated. As a byproduct property prices stabilized for a while at affordable levels for us Deplorables.
    I say let history repeat itself on this matter!

  • Sorry, but I can’t roll with either of these fellows. Begich put Anchorage into a financial nightmare and Parnell was a Palin holdover. Neither did anything spectacular for Alaska.

    • Sean did win an election on his own though.

  • Yes, in 2010 he did because Joe Miller conservatives were onboard. Not in 2014. Sean got his a$$ kicked.

  • Time to have the Jones Act removed so Anchorage/Seward/Whittier & Port Mackenzie can compete for Alaska cruises that stay in Alaska…The Jones Act also creates opportunity for competition in oil and other resource shipping that lends for lower prices on goods and services brought into Alaska Ports. It is a 100 year old act that needs to be repealed or waivered for economic development in Alaska.

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