Commentary

Whineland

2

Budget-slashing Gov. Mike Dunleavy/State of Alaska photo

Once Alaska was home to the toughest, most adaptable people on the planet. And then the white folk showed up.

Since then it’s been pretty much all downhill, starting with the barely audible flow of a meandering river that braids into gurgling riffles that become roaring rapids until finally all that water turns into a massive waterfall of whine.

Some residents of the north now think Alaska is going to “die” because Gov. Mike Dunleavy cut about $400 million of the approximately $4.4 billion of state spending the Legislature approved for fiscal year 2020.

That’s a cut of about 10 percent. It’s a big cut, a painful cut, and a particularly difficult cut for the University of Alaska which took a $130 million hit – by far the biggest loss suffered by any state entity.

Along with Alaska dying, the university is going to be “destroyed,” and “the state may never recover,” if an an op-ed in The Guardian is to be believed.

Of course, it’s never going to recover. How could it when it’s dead?

D-E-A-D

Now here’s some free advice if you believe this nonsense: Leave.

Leave now. Abandon the rotting carcass of Alaska while you can. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass. The state has grown a surplus of whiners and wimps.

Go. You won’t be missed in the least.

Meanwhile, if you decide you’re going to stay, shut up and get to work.

This is what Alaskans used to do. This is what was called “the Alaska spirit.”

If you think the cuts are going to hamstring state government, as some do, go find yourself a good candidate to run against Dunleavy in the next election and start organizing a base of support to get her or him elected.

Some free advice on that, though.

Broad-based support is what wins elections, and you don’t build it by calling everyone who disagrees with you in the least dirty names.

There are likely to be a fair-sized number of Alaskans living in the zone between “Dunleavy went too far” and the “Legislature didn’t go far enough.”

The state led the nation in per capita state and local government spending last year at $20,688 per person, according to USA Today. That’s a pretty amazing figure considering the state per capita income is only $35,065, according to the U.S. Census.

Let’s all give thanks that a significant amount of state spending comes in the form of shared federal revenues.

Then let’s consider why we spend so much – about twice what the liberal state of Minnesota spends – and no, it’s not those “shipping costs” because of the state’s remoteness.

The reason is that we have the second most public-sector jobs in the nation. Only Wyoming – another state that got wealthy off hydrocarbon resource wealth and grew government without much thought to costs – has more, and it’s not far ahead.

Almost a quarter of the workers in Wyoming – 24.9 percent – hold government jobs. Alaska is at 24.6 percent. California, for comparison sake, is at 15.2.

As the fifth largest economy in the world, California is lucky to boast a lot of private sector jobs. Alaska has a high percentage of public-sector jobs in part because there hasn’t been much business growth despite relatively low taxes on businesses and workers.

How can the state have relatively low taxes on businesses and workers and yet spend so much money? Thank taxes on the oil industry which still carries the revenue load along with the feds.

But wait, it may be against the law to thank the oil industry in the 49th state where it’s largely viewed as the evil entity that sees to it “our” oil somehow gets out of the ground and moves it to where it is valuable.

Good neighbors

Now, if you’re one of those who happen to agree with cuts, you can shut up, too. It’s not a time to gloat. Maybe instead you could talk to some of your fellow Alaskans upset about the vetoes and decide where or how you might join forces to truly help Alaskans in need.

“Are you, personally, going to take in a homeless person?” a Facebook friend posted today in debating the budget cuts with another. “Or administer medication to a dying Hospice patient. Or let an abused woman and her kids hang out in your home while you’re at work because the Clare House can’t stay open for the day anymore? Or teach college classes on economics, marketing, music, biology, business, law, etc.? Or provide public media services across the state? Or shell out case to a low-income family whose kids breaks his/her ankle? No, of course you’re not. Neither am I. And that’s precisely why we need these programs administered via our government.”

The message is badly garbled, but the intentions are good. And the reality is that a lot of the things mentioned above actually can be done without government.

The response here shouldn’t be of course not; it should be of course we can.

You might not want to take in an abused woman and her family – though I’ve known those who have done so – but you can make a contribution to Clare House to keep the doors or open or start a Clair House GoFundMe and lobby friends and neighbors to contribute.

You can also make a donation to public media which is actively engaged in soliciting money all the time. (Or make a contribution here; I can guarantee you I’m producing more news copy for less money than any of the reporters at public media. One can measure the volume. I’ll leave it to you to judge the quality.)

The University of Alaska could use some help, too. If you’ve got a lot of money, how about setting up a GoFundMe to match contributions from others up to some certain level? (Full disclosure: I’m a UA-Fairbanks alum; my other half works for the university system; and I think the school (at least in Fairbanks) does some extremely high-quality research.)

It’s nice when the government does things for us, but there are things we can do ourselves.

Some of us are old enough to remember the words of President John F. Kennedy at his inaugural address in 1961 when he famously advised Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

Every since oil started flowing from Prudhoe Bay, Alaskans – rich and poor – have been doing pretty much the opposite. They’ve done a lot of asking of the state and very little doing for it.

Well here’s an opportunity to give back.

Think about this, maybe you could start a business and put some Alaskans to work. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate push back?

Wouldn’t it be good to say, “the governor put these state workers out of work, and I put them back to work. Now they’re managing websites in 47 states and 15 different countries.”

Move on

The budget war is over. The state has a governor who instead of talking about budget cuts actually made significant reductions. The veto failed. It’s all history.

If you don’t like it, vote him out in 2022, or line up the votes to elect a legislature that will grow the budget and have the votes to override any veto. This is how democracy works.

But the whining needs to stop. Unless you got here before the oil money started flowing, you have no clue as to what the real Alaska was like. The gross state product (GSP), a measure of economic productivity, was shy of $9 billion in this state in 1973. Unemployment was in the double digits.

The lifespan of Alaska Natives living in the Arctic was about 20 years shorter than it is today. The subsistence lifestyle existed because in some places people had no choice but to live off the land, which is a hard, hard way to live.

Fairbanks was still a small town, and Anchorage wasn’t much more than that. Juneau was something of a dump.

Love oil or hate it, the oil industry lifted the state economy and everyone along with it.

The unemployment rate now is 6.4 percent, although the state is only beginning to recover from its longest-running recession. And the GSP is about $54 billion.

State budget cuts are going to be painful. I feel for any state employee who loses a job. I watched too many journalists lose jobs in the past decade, and I’ve had friends in the oil patch with its up and down employment.

Losing a job is an unpleasant experience for most people because work tends to define our lives. Losing a job often isn’t just losing a job; it’s like having a part of your soul cut out.

And yes, there will be poor or sick people who suffer because of these cuts. That’s a difficult thing to accept but there is no system on earth in which some poor or sick people don’t suffer, and there never will be.

Life simply isn’t fair; and some people make their own problems no matter how much friends, family and government try to help them. Sometimes trying to help them even makes their problems worse.

The state budget, the federal budget, the Municipality of Anchorage budget, your personal budget isn’t about doing everything possible to help other people because we will never be able to afford to do enough on a state, local or personal level.

Budgets are about what we can afford. If you can afford it, if you’ve got the expendable income or the time, you now have an opportunity to help others.

Do it. It will be a lot more productive than whining about how government should do it (that issue has been decided) and a lot more neighborly than ranting at your neighbors about how government should do everything because some of them fundamentally believe government shouldn’t do everything.

A few might even believe government shouldn’t do anything. It doesn’t make them bad, let alone evil. It makes them people with a different point of view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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63 replies »

  1. “Well here’s an opportunity to give back.

    Think about this, maybe you could start a business and put some Alaskans to work. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate push back?

    Wouldn’t it be good to say, “the governor put these state workers out of work, and I put them back to work. Now they’re managing websites in 47 states and 15 different countries.””

    Well, after you, Craig! Did you write that before your morning cup of tea? If I didn’t know better, I’d say you plagiarized an old Jenkins essay.

    How many writers do you employ?

  2. The irony of a whiner whining about others whining is probably lost on most of you. Also ironic that this mirrors Trumps racist screed of go back where you came from. Lived here 40 years but I guess I’m still not legit to have an opinion about how my state government works. Get to work? Never stopped, dude, and Dumbleavy just makes me worker harder.

    • Trump’s comment was “Go back to the crime infested shit hole where you came from and THEN come back here and tell us how fantastic it is.” Not only is his sentiment right on the money concerning these anti-American cretins, it’s quite a lot different than you put it.

      • Wrong. It was a blatant racist screed to fire up his uneducated base and he doubled down today, as he always does. But it is an effective distraction from his rapey friend and his kids in cages. Divide and conquer is the one thing he’s good at.

      • Danjsulli you are just repeating talking points of corrupt biased media. How about some exact wording from don trump with context. You need to start trying to understand where his statements come from versus projecting what you hear .

      • No danjsulli, he’s not dividing anything, but rather instead is bringing the Democratic party together and forcing them to either publicly distance themselves from the “squad” or rally behind them in a show of unity and be crushed in 2020 because the majority of Americans really aren’t down with hatred of America and Communism masquerading as socialism. I don’t envy Nancy Pelosi the problems she has to deal with now.

        As far as children in cages go…isn’t it true that the “squad” all voted against a nearly 5 billion dollar bill designed to alleviate living conditions at the border for all the illegal migrants who are being held for processing while thousands more pour across the border on a daily basis? Kind of puts the lie to what you’re saying right their, my friend. Maybe you should send them a letter urging them to reconsider their position. I’d go so far to say that it’s the democratic party and the squad in particular who’s actually doing everything in their power to create the crisis at the border. Weird to see you stick up for a party that is literally doing everything in their power to incentivize human trafficking.

  3. So there are a number of elected representatives who are certain that State administrators and folks working for public interest NGOs are needed to tell you how to spend your $3,000.00 on yourself.

    Wow, so now we are totally dependent on the government? Bummer

  4. Medred opens this article with the following comment.

    “Once Alaska was home to the toughest, most adaptable people on the planet. And then the white folk showed up.”

    Medred obviously sees his white identity is the reason for his self-loathing. He’s obviously in denial of the real reason–he’s a run-of -the-mill underachiever. He tries to assuage his feelings of inferiority by criticizing an entire race of people; mistakenly thinking he will appear noble by attacking his own race. Sadly, his comment reveals a heart possessed by nothing less then unfounded racism.

    • you got it, Wayne. unfounded racist. now come on up and trying surviving a winter using only Interior Athabascans tools. i’m betting you don’t make it.

      they were tough people. they had to be to survive. technology softened all of us.

  5. Craig,
    I am wondering if you or Governor Dunleavy would have felt differently if the university system received a 40 percent cut in their budget while you guys were attending there as students?
    It seems to me targeting one area of the budget with a 40 percent loss is unfair when the overall average cut was 10 percent of the total budget.
    Why not impose a flat cut across the entire budget of 10 percent to (pensions, PFD, oil taxes and government salaries)?
    Bloomberg News reported:
    “Gov. Michael Dunleavy is pushing his alma mater to the financial brink so the state can avoid raising taxes or dipping into oil industry money…Alaska’s austerity measures are in stark contrast to other states that have started to increase higher-education funding as the economy keeps expanding.”
    Unfortunately, we as Alaskans have too much in common with other states like Wyoming who’s backbone economy is in resource extraction…their GDP is even lower than ours at 50th out of 50 in the Nation and as less investment is made in oil with national switches to shale gas and renewable energy…Wyoming lost 25,000 jobs in the Energy sector as coal is phased out of electric plants throughout America.
    Wyoming (who also has no state income tax) has also seen 1,200 people a year on average leaving the state as we have been seeing up here…

    • The legislature would have to implement a 10 percent cut across the budget. That is not in the powers of the governor of Alaska. The legislators have had 5 years to do a common sense move like this. But all they know how to do is spend. Only way to cut in the current political environment is via vetoes.

    • Only 17% of the university budget was cut, not this misinformed number of 41%. Rather, 41% of the governments contribution was cut and that equates to around 17% of the university budget. But people will twist facts to fit their self serving narratives and then biased media either chooses to ignore the facts or doesn’t do their homework and soon this inaccurate information is being taken as fact.

      • Seeing as how the Universities are basically just churning out socialists by the truckload nowadays, it is a pity that it’s not the full 41% reported.

    • There is no constitutional mandate to fund continuing education. The areas that have constitutional mandates should be funded before those that do not, that is “fair”. At roughly $50,000 per student per year the UA system can use a haircut. K-12 is roughly 13,000 per student per year. The free ride is coming to an end for UA, they will need to live within their means the same way other state institutions will need to.

    • Steve,

      If the University’s costs hadn’t exploded, primarily sdue to increased numbers of, and thus payroll and benefits for, non-teaching administrative staff over the past 40 years I might have some sympathy. Ditto the explosion in personnel costs in wages and benefits for State government in general.

      In neither case have services nor quality expanded in any sort of positive cost/benefit ratio.

      If the University had the same curricula range and staffing as in even the ’80s we’d be better off.

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinesimon/2017/09/05/bureaucrats-and-buildings-the-case-for-why-college-is-so-expensive/#595c7204456a

  6. We’re headed back to Wasilla ‘87. Empty malls. Half-finished subdivisions. Restaurants closed and gutted between visits. This isn’t governing the ship of state, it’s setting course for the reef.
    Recall him!

  7. It won’t be long until we find out if the “Alaska will die!” whining about a 12% cut has merit. If Alaska lives through these cuts, then we will have learned that 12% cuts are effective budget trimmers in our new post-$100 oil world. So we should then apply 12% cuts to the budgets of the MOA, ASD, MSB and every other local government and school district in Alaska.

  8. How about this, Mr. Medred. We have 54 school districts. If you check out the political/ regional maps on the State’s web site, you will probably find no map that exceeds 30 (i stopped counting when most of them were 25 or less). When I validated the maps information I wondered how many other regional maps there are; ALOT!

    This reduction from 54 school districts will eliminate at least 24 districts. This also eliminates 24 school district central offices. Since the funding formula will not change. The $$$ can then be directed to the classroom, not the Superintendents’ conference rooms.

    This should make sense to most when they understand that Hawaii hass 1 school district and 2,000,000+ students. Thank you Senator Shower.

    There are other areas, as illustrated in the Senate Education Bill from the 2017 Senate Education committee (Hughes and MacKinnon).. Unfortunately it never got heard on the floor.

  9. We, as a state and as a people have a tremendous misplaced pride in our go it alone attitude. Most of us rely too much on government, from the state to the federal level. When 1/4 of the employed work for government it is a problem and no wonder that a minor cut to the budget causes so much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

  10. Craig,
    Lots of data in your article and yet so much is missing to this puzzle that is making so many Alaskans protest Dunleavy’s actions…and you forgot that a group is starting a recall process and created a website “Dunleavylied.com”…
    But back to the E Con No Me…
    The cause and effect of high government employment states is the poverty level in those states…
    Hence Alaska ranks 2nd in the country under Wyoming…both “Resource Extraction States” with LOW GDP’s….
    Other states with high amounts of government workers (like Alabama) are home to lots of federal prisons…do we want this future for Alaska?
    California has 15 percent government jobs, but their economy is 5th in the WORLD…1st in the Nation at 2.9 Trillion a year.
    At around 50 Billion a year…we rank 45th out of 50th…not too good.
    Pennsylvania by contrast only has 12 percent government employment making it the lowest in the nation….this while PA pumps out 651 Billion dollars of GDP a year….private sector is profitable…GOV not so much.
    My point will all of this leads to why we must preserve the PFD (or give property owners back their mineral rights)…
    If I owned undeveloped land in PA…I could lease it out to gas companies and get a royalty…
    Up here you can own 1,000 acres in the bush and not get to do much other than a cabin or Lodge (or maybe Hemp farm).
    This leads to the reason why the PFD was started and worked for so long until oil prices fell and SB21 cut taxes on revenue.
    The state is at a turning point and the rear view mirror will not help.
    “Between 1980 and 2016, oil revenues paid for the vast majority of Alaska’s government services.”
    (NPR)
    Those with government and oil industry jobs profited well, but many in the private sector struggled to get by…some government services like Medicaid help the workforce in AK and that cannot be denied…the PFD helps thousands of Alaskans as well each year.
    “In other words: Alaska has figured out a way to use its oil wealth to give all its residents cash for free and wipe out extreme poverty — and it doesn’t appear to be harming its economy in the process.”
    The problem in Alaska is the government unions and high level “Graft”…not the PFD!

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.vox.com/platform/amp/policy-and-politics/2018/2/13/16997188/alaska-basic-income-permanent-fund-oil-revenue-study

    • “Until oil prices dropped and SB21 lowered oil tax revenue” is key in a state that has very little private industry, is far from the rest of the U.S. and cannot participate in typical commerce exchange due to the cost of transport, which relies on oil, and has such strong seasonality which decreases a consistent revenue stream. We should accept the fact that we ARE a welfare state and increase tax on oil revenues. It is time again to petition for higher tax revenues. We already know that Alaska receives the lowest tax revenue of any other state/country that allows big oil to drill on their land.

      • And we know that “Alaska receives the lowest tax revenue of any other state/country” how? studies i’ve seen put us in the lower tier, but not at the bottom.

  11. Time for a review: The Top Ten Steps of the Dunleavy plan

    1. Mike Dunleavy served in the Alaska legislature the entire time Bill Walker was governor.
    2. While Governor Walker tried valiantly for years to get the legislature, including Dunleavy, to take some action, ANY ACTION on the rapidly growing deficit, Dunleavy and others did NOTHING.
    3. Walker, increasingly frustrated, finally acted by limiting PFDs to prevent the do-nothing legislature from spending every last dime in the various savings accounts. Dunleavy tried to block him.
    4. Alaskans, frustrated by lower dividends (that are NOT earned), blamed Walker because they didn’t understand (see above).
    5. Dunleavy sees the opportunity to exploit the situation.
    6. Dunleavy gets elected entirely by promising all Alaskans $6700 as soon as he is sworn in. He had no other platform.
    7. Dunleavy is sworn in, immediately backs off the $6700 PFD promise (who knew it was complicated?).
    8. Dunleavy, true to his promise to gut state government (that nobody paid attention to because they were mentally spending their $6700 gift) rides in on his white horse as a ‘Super-Conservative’ announcing a devastating budget veto to “get our house in order” (actually, it will do permanent damage).
    9. Alaskan’s who can actually think, react with real-world projections of how devastating Dunleavy’s budget would be to Alaska.
    10. Dunleavy, meanwhile, gets to insert his buddies, fellow church members, and next door neighbor into high paying commissioner and other high level state jobs while trying to earn favor with his Dear Leader president. Well done, super-conservative Dunleavy.
    (Projected future) Although the vast majority of Alaskans reject Dunleavy’s disastrous budget, our legislators collapsed into utter dysfunction and failed to override the vetoes. The first wave of repercussions is the loss of the state funding. The second, and much greater repercussion is the loss of matching grants; the loss of continuity in on-going research (such as Alaska’s role in international arctic research via UAF); UA supported, and widely used volcano and tsunami warning systems; safety nets for hundreds of people (including children) in crisis every day that will now be on the streets; and the loss of accreditation of many UA programs, and possibly the entire UA system.
    Sorry Craig, just telling people to suck-it-up, and/or if you don’t like it, leave AK is not helpful. Although many may agree with your assessment that we need to grit our teeth and bear it (really have no other option), it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold our ‘One-trick-pony’ governor and our worthless legislature accountable.

    Zachary Roberts
    Kenai, Alaska

    • Nice revisionist history, Zach. Walker was elected promising a 16% budget per year until it was balanced. Each budget submitted was larger than the previous year until the one he submitted after being defeated for reelection. And the only vetoes he wielded were those that hurt the producers (capital credits) and the PFD. I expect he had the PFD money he vetoed progged for startup costs for his natural gas pipeline. Arguably, if Walker had actually cut the budget as promised during his campaign, he would still be governor. Cheers –

    • Consider that Dunleavy won with 51% of the vote. In my opinion, if Begich had stayed out of the election, I think Walker would have beat him, even with the Lt Gov debacle. No decent Repub would ever vote for Begich and moderates were essentially forced to vote for Dunleavy if they wanted to participate. My opinion is that the Governors agenda was likely not supported by the majority of Alaskans and it still isn’t. And it’s not that I think efficient government is a bad thing and I dislike taxes as much as the next guy, but Dunleavy has no plan other than cut (at least that I’ve heard), and that will cause infinitely more damage than good. No way to know if I’m right or wrong about the election but we’ll know pretty quick about his policy.

  12. I lived in Fairbanks as a kid in the 60’s. It was a small town. I returned to Alaska in 1979 and attended Anchorage Community College and UAA. I got a job on the slope and learned a little about the oil business. For the last 35 years that industry has taken me around the world with Alaska always remaining my home base.

    The Alaska I remember with longing was populated by people with names like Hickel, Egan, Hammond, Sturgelewski, Tillion, Knowles, Sullivan (George), and Mike Gordon. I did not agree with all of these people but I admired them for being “do’ers”. I was thinking the other day about how I railed against Knowles for his Project 80’s and the Coastal Trail. I was wrong about the coastal trail. It has been a marvelous addition to Anchorage. I can also assure you that if George Sullivan were still the Mayor we would not have homeless camps all over town.

    My point is that Alaska has in the past been populated with “can do” people in our politicians. People who had real jobs and did politics as citizen legislators. I’m afraid we now have a professional political class very few of whom love Alaska like the old timers did. Instead they are part of the wokerati. They want Alaska to be northern Washington and part of the #woke people. If Alaska is to be saved from itself they must be replaced. Perhaps a purge of the less committed like we saw in the late 80’s is what is required for us to reclaim the Alaska that Craig writes about.

  13. Great article. In 2014 the price of oil drops 50 percent. Oil companies adapt. 8000 private sector jobs lost. No whining.

    Public sector remains insulated from economic reality for 5 years after oil price drops. We spend all of Alaska’s savings to allow the publuc sector to languish in fiscal fantasy land.

    Then an adult comes along. Dunleavey. And does what has to be done. And will cut a lot more the next 3 years.

    Now, when reality finally shows up, massive whining from public employees and the economically clueless in Alaska. Fuck all whiners. Especially pubic employee whiners. Get the fuck out of Alaska.

  14. In 2001, Dianne Corso and I wrote a White Paper for the, then, Murkowski Campaign proposing that the State follow the private sector’s lead and dramatically flatten its organizational structure. From the Seventies through the Nineties in order to survive the private sector had all but eliminated the traditional hierarchal, multi-layer business structures of the first half of the 20th Century. We pointed out that the State still had the same organization that the Territory had in the world of rotary phones, 1st Class Mail, and carbon manifolds. We were looking at perhaps a 30% turnover in our workforce in the next 3-5 years due to employees aging to retirement. We believed we could use that fact to reorganize to a much flatter structure, eliminate many structures and functions, and do most of it by simple attrition as employees retired and weren’t replaced. We believed that we could reduce the State’s administrative and managerial staff by about a third, at least a couple thousand employees.

    After election Gov. Murkowski approved pilot reorganization in two areas; human resources administration and information technology. Opposition was immediate and vicious. Dianne and I had the horsepower to drive through the HR/LR reorganization, though the ‘crats undid it all after we retired. We made no progress on reorganizing IT where we continued to have separate, archaic, proprietary systems in each department with a full IT staff and IT head in each one. There was no hope with the Administration’s waning political capital of expanding the reorganization. The anticipated turnover took place as many high level employees who had begun in Seventies and Eighties reached retirement age but were just replaced with a younger employee usually with no succession planning and little if any handover time. Not only did the State fail, refuse actually, to improve its efficiency it allowed itself to lose a vast amount of it skill, institutional memory, and organizational culture.

    I wrote a piece for Must Read Alaska a couple of years ago called “The Unkindest Cut” in which I discussed the effect of general decrements, lump sum or percentage cuts from an appropriation rather than cuts to specified positions or programs. Unless the Governor’s Office watches them carefully, the perfumed princes that run the departments will make sure that the people who wanted cuts get them good and hard. If they’re not at it already there will soon be work groups figuring out how to do the maximum damage to the districts of those legislators who stood by the Governor.

    Craig puts a brave face on it, but there will be layoffs and the reality is that the skills that get you $60 – $80K or more with the State are useful only to the State and there isn’t another job like that out there for you. If you like so many went straight from school to the State and worked your way up, if you get laid off from the State you’re an entry level employee most anywhere else. If you saved it, you have your accrued leave and you’ll be eligible for unemployment insurance, but in all likelihood if you choose to stay here and hope for recall, you’ll soon need your SBS and ultimately your retirement and your days with the State of Alaska and likely your days as an Alaskan will be over.

  15. I am a lifelong Alaskan who contributes a sizeable amount to non-profits. So I understand and concur with the notion that we all should chip in to make our state a better place. I walk that walk.

    But I disagree that giving by Alaskans — which would have to be $586 by every single Alaskan to replace these cuts — is the proper solution to this problem. It is not ok to not have PCE, and that can’t be fixed by individual donation. It is not ok to not have Head Start or adequate hospice care. And it is not appropriate to (further) gut our university system.

    I’ll pony up my PFD this year toward the things I care about, but there is a governmental role here. I hope we can all agree on that.

  16. Craig laid out good options to begin to address the acrimony that this issue has brought from the back burner. This is an issue that has been long in coming. I am glad it is finally happening.
    Make the commitment to do something for the state that we each chose to live in. If you dont want to do that, as Craig suggested, get on one of the many flights out of here. Good riddance.

    • I blame all that whining on imported West Coast liberals. They have been whining since birth. Also, Minnesota a liberal state? Hmmm.

  17. This year’s legislative process represents a massive “no confidence” vote against the status quo.

    Contributing to the outcome was ineptitude at the leadership level. It is pretty amazing that the people in charge of spending billions can’t count to 15. But that’s what happens in Juneau. We elect people and send them to a remote location inhabited by public sector workers and lobbyists. Soon their judgement gets distorted and they forget how to count. The people who went to Wasilla didn’t forget how to count.

  18. I’ve got 3 takes:
    1) I largely support the gov’s decision to hack the state budget. We are still spending like drunken sailors fresh in port. The state overall has given way too much cash to way too many organizations and programs… in my opinion. That being said, we live in a society. As a society, we collectively make decisions that affect us all. If people want less $ spent by the state, vote for candidates that support your fiscal views. If people want more $ spent by the state, then vote for candidates that support your fiscal views. Whatever – it’s a political compromise.
    2) I support the free market. Both of my kids are attending UAF (because it’s the only ‘real’ college in the state). However, if the cuts to the UA system (which is a hugely bloated pile of bureaucratic disfunction and can remove about 1/2 to 3/4 of its upper ‘management’ IMO) affect my kids education negatively, we will be sending them out of state where they can receive a ‘real’ degree. It’s not like it’s going to cost much more than the $20k+/year that it will cost each of them to get their education without the state funding the scholarships that they earned and received from the state and the UA system. I fear that the demise of the UA system (one could argue that its demise happened years or decades ago when they started spending more on salaries, pensions and unnecessary buildings) will hammer the Fairbanks economy. But, if the goal is to ‘get rid of the whiners – so be it. It’s easy to talk the libertarian talk, not so easy to walk the libertarian walk.
    3) I believe that the entitlement attitude so prevalent in AK was created by the establishment of the PFD. To all of those people who feel like they deserve the PFD and have somehow earned it, I challenge you to donate it to the organization that you feel deserves it most – troopers, healthcare, schools, etc. Hell, you can even write a check to the US government if you want to ‘support our troops’ or fund your highway infrastructure projects. Me, I’m going to continue to fund my kids education and pay my property taxes with it – because I can live without all this shit that folks are whining about… including the PFD.
    Cheers, fellow whiners! ;>)

    • The PFD is a share, paid to Alaskans as shareholders, because Alaskans do not have subsurface mineral rights. If I find oil on my property, the state gets it, not me. It’s a very socialist system, because it was created that way in the state constitution, which was written by leftists. That said- if I don’t get the rights to the mineral wealth beneath land that I own, I will gladly take the check. It was also created as a bell weather on spending. If the pols tried to take it-it was supposed to be a wake up call to the citizenry, that they were spending too much.

      They did.

      It was.

      You are right- people who want to have the PFD go to fund government services, or anything else-can donate it. That is exactly the point. It is NOT an entitlement- it’s a shareholder check. You can do what you like with it.

      That said- even if it was entitlement- it is much better spent in the hands of the citizens than bureaucrats. The data bears this out over and over, as politicians and bureaucrats routinely spend more than they take in and every dollar that is washed thru government yields a fraction of that back to the intended cause (welfare, housing assistance, etc).

      So it may not be ideal- but it is a partnership essentially, formed partly at the inception of our state constitution, and completed when the fund was established. The former governor and legislature stole it- for their own ends- and this one- is giving it back.

      And a word on our Governor; It seems clear to me, he’s not so much ideologically attached to a PFD forever, as much as he is righting the wrongs of Walker and the legislature, who should have paid full dividends in the last three years, and then cutting spending to match revenue. After that, he’s been pretty clear. If Alaskans want more government, they will need a tax or to use the dividend to fund it. But THEY should decide. His proposed amendments make this clear. He wants to right the ship, balance the budget, give back what was stolen, and then let the people, not the folks in Juneau, decide how much government Alaska needs, and how to pay for it.

      • Fair take, Walter. I’ll leave it up to the our fellow voters to decide the future.
        Cheers!

    • I agree completely. I live out in the bush where almost none of these cut services reach. Most of the state budget benefits the road system and leaves us doing for ourselves, which is fine with us. We take care of our homebound and dying. We care for our elders in our homes rather than park them in a nursing home in Anchorage. We understand the remote UA campuses are a joke and our kids mostly attend college out of state anyway. What does impact our lives in a positive way is the PFD, putting fuel in our tanks for the winter, buying our kids new shoes and winter coats, and more. It’s going to be tough for those so accustomed to the gov’t teat, but they are adults and it’s high time they get weaned.

      • Saying it like it is – good on you, Loretta! I think that if the average ‘Alaskan’ (myself included) lived the village life for a year, it would be eye opening in many ways. Respect!
        Cheers!

  19. One thing to remember about spending is that the closer the control of who is spending the money is to where or what it is spent on, the better that money is spent. It is why homeschoolers in this state do a better job than the public schools spending a tenth per student. It is why small businesses do better than governments. They don’t have to carry a bureaucracy along with them. We have a fabulous opportunity with both the Dunleavy and Trump administration. They are letting states, local governments and individuals rewrite the rules, flattening the structure you have to fund with every single one of those dollars. To do something really big like fight a war, you need a government. Anything else, it is better to hire it done or do it yourself.

    Good article, Craig. Cheers –

  20. Well said Craig . I’m interested to hear all the positive ideas. May the representives listen .

  21. And here you are whining about those whiners….
    You are like so many other whiners who never propose a solution…….If you proclaim to be a
    Spokesmen for Alaska…..then offer some solutions rather than constantly stirring the shit!!!!

  22. Well some people are not whining, they are taking action and running a recall petition campaign. Others are still hoping the Legislature and Governor can come to some compromise. Others are making serious plans because they are about to lose their job and they have no hope of selling or renting their home. Some small businesses in the UAF area are wondering if they will have enough customers to survive. I agree it makes no sense to whine or engage in name calling. Just take action. I will plan where to donate my big PFD, IF one appears — and I will plan on signing a recall petition if the vetoes are not largely overridden.

  23. What is the difference between an Alaskan, who moved here in the ‘80s and a puppy?
    The puppy quit whining, after six weeks.

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