What others say: Both ballot measures benefit Alaskans

  • Monday, October 24, 2016 8:26pm
  • Opinion

The statewide election will feature two ballot measures.

One seeks voter approval for allowing qualified Alaskans to register to vote when applying for an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend.

The other amends the Alaska Constitution, expanding the state’s authority to incur debt through general obligation bonds for postsecondary student loans.

Ballot Measure No. 1 would allow information acquired through individuals signing up for a permanent fund to be passed along to the Division of Elections, which would determine whether the applicant was eligible to vote. If so, the person would be notified and have 30 days to respond with a political affiliation or opt out.

The cost of measure No. 1 would be about $942,000, the vast majority of which would be for the Division of Elections to implement the initiative over the 90 days immediately following the election. Recurring annual costs are estimated at approximately $300,000.

Proponents argue that No. 1 would result in increased efficiencies and financial savings by reducing paperwork in favor of electronic data capture. Linking with the permanent fund’s electronic verification system, according to proponents, would increase the probability of only eligible Alaska citizens being registered to vote.

The state Division of Elections received no statement of opposition to the measure for its 2016 Election Pamphlet.

Neither did it receive an opposing statement for Measure No. 2.

The argument for the measure is that it would allow for affordable financing for college and career training of more Alaskans for the high-skill, high-wage jobs in Alaska, that it increases access to education and training, and that it results in no cost to the state and no state budget increase.

The student loan debt would be issued through the existing Alaska Student Loan Corp., which provides loans to students at the lowest interest rates it can, based on the bond market. The loan corporation has issued and repaid more than $1.1 billion in bond debt over the past nearly 30 years.

Alaskans benefit with both measures. To pass them requires yes votes.

— Ketchikan Daily News, Oct. 22, 2016

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