One of the things that is critical in the race for Governor and legislature this coming election cycle is for the candidates to spell out their vision for how Alaska survives the challenges it faces in the coming decade. What the state looks like in the 2020’s and beyond largely will be shaped in the next four years. As the University of Alaska-Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) has said:
“Right now, the state is on a path it can’t sustain. Growing spending and falling revenues are creating a widening fiscal gap. In its 10-year fiscal plan, the state Office of Management and Budget (OMB) projects that spending the cash reserves might fill this gap until 2023, as the adjacent figure shows. But what happens after 2023?
Reasonable assumptions about potential new revenue sources suggest we do not have enough cash in reserves to avoid a severe fiscal crunch soon after 2023, and with that fiscal crisis will come an economic crash.”
While I am not a candidate — and don’t want to be — thus far none of the announced candidates have put forth a vision for Alaska’s future that addresses these issues. Indeed, the only candidate that has addressed the future, Governor Parnell, has put forth a plan that results in the state’s fiscal situation — and with it, the state’s economy — doing a crash and burn sometime late this decade. As I have explained elsewhere, among the other casualties of that economic tsunami likely will be SB 21, his only signature piece of legislation to this point.
In the absence of any candidate doing so, I intend to start talking about a comprehensive plan that I believe addresses the coming economic issues facing Alaska and has the ability to create, to use Ronald Reagan’s phrase, a “Morning in Alaska.” I will start doing so this coming Thursday (October 24th) in my remarks to the Alaska Libertarian Party. I understand from the Party officials that it is an open meeting, with all welcome.
We’ll see how this goes.