It has been an interesting campaign season and a long one at that. I have been on the campaign trail since July. Now, in less than a week it will all be over, and you, the voters, will decide the direction my future takes. I am excited about the prospect of going to Juneau and representing Kenai/Soldotna residents at the state level. During my campaign, people have consistently asked the questions: Are you sure you want to go to Juneau? Why do you want to go to Juneau? Do you know you’re going down at the worst possible time? My answers have always been: Absolutely sure I want to go. I want to go to assist in solving some of our existing issues and hopefully help define policy for moving the state forward, and no, I don’t think it is the worst possible time to go to Juneau. I actually think it is an opportune time as we are now forced to get our house in order. When the state is flush with revenue, the only conversations had in Juneau is how to divide it up. There are no meaningful conversations about a vision for Alaska’s long term future or a diversification of our economy. I have said many times that Alaska should always remain somewhat fiscally challenged to incentivize us to be more proactive in diversifying our economy, developing our lands and natural resources, expanding our infrastructure, (ie: roads, airports, railroad etc).
It is definitely a challenging time for the state’s financial picture but it is not the first time this has happened and it will not be the last time we see this. The fiscal issue the state is in is unique; in essence it didn’t happen slowly due to a natural cycle in our economy but rather due to an immediate crash in the commodity prices that support all of our state services.
Oil prices will eventually rebound and so will the state’s economy. In the interim, though, we will need to find a way to get to a balanced budget and not default on the state’s obligations. That means a much leaner operating budget (reduction in state services), raising additional revenue (taxes, fee for services, etc).
Surprisingly, throughout my campaign while knocking on doors I have had many constituents say to me “I am okay with giving up part of my permanent fund; we are past due for an income tax; or if you have to have a tax make it a sales tax; or it’s about time we started paying our own way.” Of course I had those who said “cut the budget but don’t touch my PFD, or tax me but don’t touch my PFD.”
The reason I was so surprised by the responses is the fact that such a large majority of the people understood the depth of the fiscal problem the state is facing and were supportive of the proposed fixes. So as silly as it may sound to some, it made me somewhat proud to have the opportunity to go to Juneau and represent this district. Our Kenai Peninsula Borough is a largely conservative district and with so much support out there it makes the job a whole lot easier.
Thank you for your support in the primary election. We have one more election to win … I still need your support. Please vote on November 8th .