While one candidate reminded voters that they have four options for governor, two opponents spent some time during a Wednesday debate trying to discredit one another.
Independent candidate Bill Walker said in discussing the budget during the race, he has been under attack by Gov. Sean Parnell’s campaign.
“We need to put all the projects on the table, all the issues on the table,” Walker said. “I was recently called out about why would I not make a decision about the road to Juneau.”
“I’m not sure it’s being under attack when I point out that Bill Walker’s plan for cutting the budget is reducing 16 percent in one year and then asking him for the plan on how that gets allocated,” Parnell said. “That’s what he’s calling an attack.”
Parnell, a Republican, said Walker has said education is on the table for cuts, but has also talked about increasing funding to education.
“You cannot have it both ways,” Parnell said. “You have a governor with a track record of working to spend less.”
Walker said Parnell is misquoting him and that the 16 percent in cuts would be over a period of time, or revenue would need to be increased.
“I didn’t create this mess,” Walker said. “Governor Parnell’s administration created the largest deficit we ever had. I get criticized because I’m not doing enough to articulate how I’m going to clean up his mess.”
J.R. Myers, an Alaska Constitution Party candidate, and Carolyn Clift, Libertarian, are also running — as Myers reminded a full house at the joint Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce gubernatorial forum at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
Myers said he hopes to gain 3 percent or more of the vote in Alaska, which will give his party political party status.
“We think that the existing parties have faltered in their promises to the people of Alaska, so we’re hoping to be established,” Myers said.
Myers said the state needs to create a sustainable budget by addressing expenditures. He said he would consider cutting projects like the road to Juneau.
“It’s a total waste of money,” he said. … “It will serve no one’s interests except the people that are building it perhaps.”
Referring to the operating budget, Myers said priorities need to be rethought because it is too high and unsustainable.
“There’s going to be some tough decisions that are going to have to be made,” Myers said.
Clift said as a Libertarian she will minimize government and decrease spending, if elected.
“We know the oil price is down, we are not going to be able to sustain the government that we have going on right now,” Clift said.
Clift said unnecessary projects need to be cut and transportation systems need to be maintained.
In the operating budget, Clift said she wouldn’t add to it.
“As a good leader I’m going to call in all the department heads and ask all of them to look at those departments and find those cuts themselves,” she said. “And I’m going to ask all of the administration to take a 10 percent cut in pay.”
Parnell discussed why he declined federal funds to expand Medicaid and two candidates said they wouldn’t have expanded the program either.
“We would be taking billions of dollars that would be borrowed by our national government from foreign entities when we already have a $17 trillion debt,” Parnell said. “I think there are smarter ways to go when it comes to health care for those at 100 percent of the federal poverty level or below.”
Clift agreed and said in two years Alaska would have had to pick up the bill from the federal government.
Not participating in Medicaid expansion is a wise decision, Myers said.
“The money is not even real,” he said. “It’s being printed out of thin air. The feds saying, ‘We’ll give you this money.’ What money? It’s just more of the same of this false government growth that has no basis in reality and it’s going to be a bubble that’s going to burst at some point.”
Walker said he would expand Medicaid. He said it helps many Alaskans.
“We accept matching funds from the federal government all the time on highways and we’ll do it on a 50-50 basis, but we won’t do 100 percent on health care,” Walker said. “There’s something wrong with that.”
The candidates were asked about whether they think the Alaska Board of Fish 2017 Upper Cook Inlet Finfish meeting should be held on the Kenai Peninsula.
Parnell, Myers and Clift all said the Board of Fish need to meet throughout stakeholder areas. Parnell said he has tried to get the on the meeting on the Kenai Peninsula in the past.
If elected, Walker said, “The Board of Fish will meet on the Peninsula.”
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at email@example.com.