Who has it Right?

Is this the most important election in Alaska’s history? Judging from the number of outrageous and atrocious posts by prejudiced partisan “journalists” alone, one would have to wonder, what’s up?

After the Alaska Supreme Court ruling in Wielechowski vs. the APFC, and three years of massive dividend cuts, totaling about $2.36 billion Alaska’s reeling economy and the hurt being felt around the state leads us to but one conclusion: The future of Alaska does indeed hang in the balance.

What’s at stake goes to the heart of what the purpose of government is all about. The State of Alaska Constitution points out in no uncertain terms that the purpose of government is to fulfill the will of the People (Article I, Sec. 2). Do we have a representative form of government or do we have an oligarchy to which we must submit?

This is not an idle question. For if those claiming to represent us are in fact beholden to the “special interests” that put them there, then the pleas of those so governed will fall on deaf ears. Our government has then become an elitist “aristocracy” whom the people serve! And the interests, whom our elected representatives serve, will dictate the policies that affect all of us.

Enter the permanent fund and its dividend, budget deficits of about $3 billion per year, and the spending down of the constitutional budget reserve of $12 billion during Gov. Bill Walker’s term in office. The earnings of the permanent fund were tapped for $2.7 billion last session, of which $1 billion went to a foreshortened dividend of $1,600. The dividend, since the recent Alaska Supreme Court decision, is now subject to annual appropriation, which need not conform to the 50 percent of earnings, as averaged, statute on the books. $700 million was taken from the hands of qualifying Alaskans this year alone, while the earnings reserve increased once again.

Does the State of Alaska have the right to set the annual dividend at their discretion? Yes, the Alaska Supreme Court has given them that right. But do not Alaskans have the fundamental right to their dividend, by virtue of their ownership in common of the state’s resources? In Hickel v. Cowper the Alaska Supreme Court did indeed rule that half of the earnings were dedicated to the dividend, and the other half was available for the government to spend.

Why the lengthy clarification? Because in this election the People of Alaska have a candidate who is going to stand up for their rights! The government has overreached in procuring the dividend, which is essential to so many. Certainly, the earnings of the permanent fund were meant to serve a dual purpose. That 50 percent division has served us well since 1982, and would continue to do so, if the special interests who want the People’s share are thwarted. There is only one candidate who proposes to do just that.

This is not an idle claim. He has opposed the bill (SB 26) that would cut and cap the dividend, while he was in office. He voted against the budget bill (HB 57), which caused him to be removed from his party caucus, suffering all the consequences thereof. But he has emerged as the People’s candidate, receiving grassroots support from thousands, on his way to victory in the primary.

There are those who say the budget can’t be cut any more. They are the same ones who say the dividend must be reduced. Both assertions are false! We can have a balanced budget with a full dividend and no new taxes! Government spending can be trimmed and half of the earnings of the permanent fund can be used to make it happen. That’s the Dunleavy plan. It’s not some pipe dream. It’s time for our government to return to its true purpose, and serve all the People of Alaska.

— Andrew Brewer, Eagle River

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