Coalition backs mix of cuts, Permanent Fund restructure

Alaska needs a combination of unpopular actions to fix budget issues, according to Jim Jansen, Co-Chair of the KEEP Alaska Competitive Coalition.

Jansen, who is also the board chairman for the trucking company Lynden Inc., spoke to a special joint luncheon of the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce Monday, explaining KEEP’s mission to “solve Alaska’s fiscal crisis now, but don’t destroy our resource industries in the process.”

The fiscal problems can’t be solved by cuts alone, Jansen said. KEEP is supporting a fiscal solution that cuts government spending and restructures the earnings of the Permanent Fund in order to ensure that Alaska is a competitive place for the resource industries to invest.

“Alaska is better with oil,” Jansen said throughout the presentation.

KEEP is a group of corporations, unions, businesses and individuals, but do not receive any funding from the oil industry, Jansen said.

“The oil industry has paid for almost 90 percent of Alaska’s government since the pipeline was built. … Oil has funded our schools, roads, airports and public safety … has allowed us the luxury of not having to pay state income taxes and have the lowest fuel taxes in the nation … and has funded Alaska’s $55 billion Permanent Fund,” Jansen said.

Jansen and KEEP recommend that the Legislature look to capitalize on Alaska’s strengths by marketing the state’s resources, maintaining stable and competitive tax policies, balancing a sustainable budget and by stopping threats to resource industries with uncompetitive taxes.

“If most of your revenue and most of your jobs come from the resource industries, you can’t tax away their incentive to invest and expect to have a sustainable economy,” Jansen said.

The joint chamber meeting drew a full room at the Kenai Visitor Center, including Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre, who thanked Jansen for his presentation.

“I appreciate you coming out and sharing this. I think that we need a comprehensive plan, which is what you’re talking about,” Navarre said. “When we talk about squeezing down the operating budget, though, it’s much easier said than done. There are things that aren’t in the budget now that probably need to be addressed.”

According to KEEP, it takes a substantial annual industry investment to keep production levels on the North Slope stable, which is maintained with a durable and competitive tax policy for the oil companies.

“We have to stop trying to balance the budget on the backs of the industry. …It’s been a great ride,” Jansen said. “But it’s not sustainable.”

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Stickers are available for voters at the Kenai No. 1 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to hold ‘I Voted’ sticker design contest

City council members approved the program during their Wednesday night meeting

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of a bill increasing state funds for public education in the Alaska House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bill seeking to bump use of Alaska Performance Scholarship clears the House with unanimous support

The money is awarded to high-performing high school graduates to help pay for postsecondary education at participating institutions in Alaska

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson answers questions from state senators during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
State officials working to meet Friday deadline for revised transportation plan

The federal government rejected the plan on Feb. 9, citing numerous deficiencies

Travis Every, top left, speaks in support of fishing opportunity for the east side setnet fishery before the State Board of Fisheries at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local fishers talk conservation, opportunity before Board of Fisheries in Anchorage

Local fishers from the Kenai Peninsula traveled to Anchorage this weekend to… Continue reading

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman bill would pay bonuses to nationally certified teachers

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development estimates that the bonus program would apply to about 215 of Alaska’s estimated 7,315 teachers — about 3%

Alaska senators meet with members of the media to discuss education legislation after a press conference by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the topic on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dunleavy threatens veto of education bill if more of his priorities aren’t added

It is not certain there would be the 40 votes necessary to override a veto by the governor

A map displays a wide-ranging special weather statement, published Tuesday by the National Weather Service, covering Southcentral Alaska. (Map courtesy of National Weather Service)
Strong winds, low wind chills forecast through Friday

Wind chills over night may reach as low as -20 to -40 degrees in much of Southcentral

Snow falls atop the Central Peninsula Diabetes Center in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. The office opened in October, but a grand opening was held this week. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital adds Diabetes Center

The center has been seeing patients since October and held a grand opening Monday

Gary Hollier pulls a sockeye salmon from a set gillnet at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Findings from pilot setnet fishery study inconclusive

The study sought to see whether shorter nets could selectively catch sockeye salmon while allowing king salmon to pass below

Most Read