Regarding a March 31 letter to the editor titled ‘Calling on lawmakers to make a tough decision’: I loved what you said and I was moved by the passion with which you expressed your fervent wishes. Your point of view was sensible, well said, and restrained. If we just restructure the Permanent Fund, all will be well and all will end well. I have always been a sucker for a happy ending.
What you forgot is that you are dealing with politicians. If you give them 20 billion dollars, they will spend 22 billion and come back to you with excuses for why they need another 2 billion. What you forgot is that the PFD gives a shot in the arm to many Alaskan families that need it just before Christmas. What you forgot was that large and small businesses across Alaska depend on the spending in October and November to make sure they have a successful year which translates into a profitable year.
We have a budget crisis because we spend more than we take in. The solution is simple, find a way to take in more money, or find a way to spend less money. You may even have to do a little of both. Right here on the Kenai Peninsula, we have lots of positions that were created just to give people a job. These are not teacher positions, or maintenance persons, or even custodians. They are those big paying 70K, 80K and 90K positions that we did without until someone created a job for their friend sometime within the last 5 or 10 years. Yet, each time the budget gets cut, it’s the custodians or the maintenance people who end up getting cut. Where we are right now is top heavy — not enough custodians to keep the schools clean, not enough teachers to do the job and as always, maintenance takes three days to get around to plumbing repairs. There are no more easy jobs to cut. Riff the high-paid positions.
Take my advice; leave the Permanent Fund alone. The first time you access it, it will be front page news, the second time it will be third page news, and after that, if anything is left; it will be on the back page. You were wrong about the purpose of the Permanent Fund — that’s why the word “Permanent” is used in its title.