An Exchange on the Bond Issue …

The commentary in the next piece down expresses my opposition to Bonding Proposition A appearing on the upcoming general election ballot.  Subsequent to that piece, the Anchorage Daily Planet and Fairbanks News-Miner columnist Dermot Cole also have expressed their opposition here (the Planet) and here (Cole).

The Planet also published a link to my commentary.  Today, coming from that link, I received the following note from former (1992-94) Commerce and Economic Development Commissioner Paul Fuhs.  I regularly receive notes on commentaries from readers  and have received an unusual number of others on the column below. With the exception of the note from Fuhs, however, all of the remainder on this piece have supported the position taken in the commentary and indicated that they also intend to oppose the ballot measure.

Because it stands out as an exception — and because of the importance of the ballot measure — I thought Fuhs’ note, and my response, were appropriate to add to the story.

Fuhs’ note:

paul fuhs commented on Alaska Fiscal Policy| Vote No on Bonding Proposition A …

Brad, this is an incredibly off base analysis. You assume all spending is equally valuable? This transportation infrastructure is critical to the functioning of our economy. 90% of our goods come in by water and 95% of our exports leave by water. You, yes I am saying YOU, could not survive in Alaska without the goods brought in by the Port of Anchorage. Does that start to ring a bell? Or were you thinking that it was the little elves that brought those goods in the middle of the night?

Last bond issue the state did, the interest rate was 2.6%. You are never going to see money that cheap again. It is a temporary expense of about $50 million and I think a term of 15 years. When that is paid off there will be no continuing expense but those port facilities and roads will still be serving our economy. If you charted this bond issue on the charts you showed above, you wouldn’t even be able to see it.

I guess you can count me in the faceless “they” you seem to despise so much.

My response:

Paul … Thanks for your note.  Interestingly, this piece has generated, by far, more favorable comments than any I have received in a long time, perhaps since I first started the blog.   Yours is the only adverse comment I have received.  In checking my thinking I noticed the Daily Planet published their own editorial opposing the issue yesterday, as did Dermot Cole.  It’s certainly seldom when those too agree.  At best, the Ketchikan Daily News editorial today was indecisive.   I haven’t found any that support the issue.

I certainly don’t “despise” anyone.  This is simply something that I firmly believe and am confident in my thinking on it.  As I said in the piece, if the projects included in the bond issue are good and deserve priority, they can be included in future state budgets once Alaska has put its fiscal house in order.  That also will avoid the costs of incurring any debt; there certainly is nothing less costly than financing from cash on hand.  Finally, approving them now is simply putting the cart before the horse.  If they were that critical, the legislature could have approved them within the existing budget and not subjected them to a vote.  The fact the legislature did not makes it clear the legislature didn’t think they were that critical.  They evidently wanted the voters to express their opinion on them; my piece expresses mine.

Thanks again for your note.

Brad Keithley

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