Alaska residents rank 3 state services as low priority

  • Sunday, June 7, 2015 11:42pm
  • News

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — State services like the pioneers’ home, the aerospace corporation and the agriculture division are among Alaska’s least important, according to participants in a budget conference held by Gov. Bill Walker.

Those were the only three services identified as low priority Saturday during the three-day conference at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Participants in the “Building a Sustainable Future” event were asked to rank operations as critical, medium or low priority and review their current funding levels. Nearly every service was considered critical.

“That really tells you hard this is going to be,” said Department of Revenue Commissioner Randy Hoffbeck. “People value the services government delivers and they’ve been delivered at very little cost.”

He said the exercise generated $20 million worth of cuts.

Conversation turned instead to how the state can continue funding the operations after oil prices plummeted.

Just about every service of the Department of Health and Social Services was ranked as critical, aside from the Alaska Pioneers’ Homes, which participants said should serve more people.

“We’re one of the wealthiest states in the nation and what we might consider to be democratically desirable may not be politically possible,” said resident Bill Hall.

“But it’s only not politically possible if we aren’t willing to step up and say we’re willing to pay for something,” he continued. “We’ve been getting a free ride, all of us here in this table, for a long time. We’re capable of paying for a lot more.”

Hoffbeck presented about 30 different revenue options for people to consider, including income taxes, sales taxes, using the Permanent Fund as an endowment, reviewing oil and gas taxes and considering a state lottery.

Cuts and fiscal restraint will be critical but cutting down to a sustainable budget will be impossible, said Hoffbeck.

“We get life, health and safety and support for life, health and safety and little more than that,” he said. “That’s what we get for $2 billion. That’s a balanced budget.”

“To cut our way to a balanced budget, that is just not a reasonable expectation,” Hoffbeck said.

More in News

Golden-yellow birch trees and spruce frame a view of Aurora Lagoon and Portlock Glacier from a trail in the Cottonwood-Eastland Unit of Kachemak Bay State Park off East End Road on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong)
State parks advisory boards accepting applictions

Alaska State Park advisory boards provide state park managers with recommendations on management issues

A recently added port-a-potty is available in the parking lot of Slikok Multi-Use Trails on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Slikok makes sanitation upgrades

A port-a-potty was installed to due to the increased popularity of the trails

Sen. Dan Sullivan speaks at the Kenai Classic Roundtable at Kenai Peninsula College on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Local students nominated to compete for appointments in military academies

Students interested in pursuing appointment to the military service academies can apply for nomination through their state’s congressional delegation

Kenai resident Barbara Kennedy testifies in support of allowing more city residents to own chickens during a city council meeting on Wednesday, Feb.1, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council bumps back vote on chicken ordinance

The ordinance would allow Kenai residents to keep up to 12 chicken hens on certain lots

Sens. Löki Tobin, D-Anchorage, right, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, and Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, discuss a bill proposing a nearly 17% increase in per-student education funding Wednesday at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini /Juneau Empire)
State Senate bill would bump per-student funding amount by $1,000

If approved, the legislation would bump state education funding by more than $257 million

Recognizable components make up this metal face seen in a sculpture by Jacob Nabholz Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Metalwork gets time to shine

Metal is on showcase this month at the Kenai Art Center

This 2019 aerial photo provided by ConocoPhillips shows an exploratory drilling camp at the proposed site of the Willow oil project on Alaska’s North Slope. The Biden administration issued a long-awaited study on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, that recommends allowing three oil drilling sites in the region of far northern Alaska. The move, while not final, has angered environmentalists who see it as a betrayal of President Joe Biden’s pledges to reduce carbon emissions and promote green energy. (ConocoPhillips via AP)
Biden administration recommends major Alaska oil project

The move — while not final — drew immediate anger from environmentalists

Homer Electric Association General Manager Brad Janorschke testifies before the Senate Resources Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Juneau, Alaska. (Screenshot via Gavel Alaska)
Senate group briefed on future of Cook Inlet gas

Demand for Cook Inlet gas could outpace supply as soon as 2027

Most Read