League of Women Voters to host finance forum

Kenai Peninsula residents can get a crash course in the state’s fiscal situation during an upcoming forum that’s part of the Central Peninsula League of Women Voters’ efforts to engage people in politics.

The league and the Kenai Peninsula College Student Government will host two presenters during the forum, titled $3 Billion Short: Alaska Budget Challenge, at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the college’s McLane Commons.

Gunnar Knapp, a professor of economics at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and Cliff Groh, chair of the public policy organization Alaska Common Ground, will take those who attend the forum through the current state of Alaska’s finances as well as explain the possible solutions to balance the projected budget deficit.

Gail Knobf, president of the league’s peninsula chapter, said the Alaska’s budget issue is not going away any time soon, so it is important for residents to become educated on it before they vote in elections.

“There’s many changes that Gov. Walker has been espousing that are of concern to all of us, and the fact that Alaska is not doing well with the oil prices having gone down, and that has definitely hurt our economy here in Alaska, and it’s going to continue to be an issue for us,” Knobf said.

The two speakers were invited to the peninsula in part because of league member Lois Pillifant’s connection to one of them.

“I happened to know Cliff Groh,” Pillifant said. “He lived in my neighborhood, he grew up right where I lived in Anchorage.”

Pillifant said even if she hadn’t already known one of the men, she would have reached out to both of them for the forum.

Getting knowledgeable speakers to explain political issues outside of major cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks can sometimes be a challenge, Pillifant said.

“It was very fortunate that they agreed to come down and make this presentation because too often Kenai or the peninsula is forgotten,” she said.

Pillifant said that while the league’s main focus right now is getting more people registered to vote, she hopes for a good turn out to the forum.

She and Knobf said it is important for residents to not only understand the financial situation, but also the options to go about fixing it so they can decide whether they support those options.

“I hope it gets them to think about what they think the state should be doing as far as balancing our budget,” Pillifant said.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsula.com.

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