A column from Alaska Politics & Elections …
Earlier this month I announced that I intend to spend up to $200,000 of my own money in an independent expenditure effort this fall directed at 3 – 5 legislative races. A copy of the initial press statement outlining the effort is here.
The purpose of the effort is to help restore fiscal responsibility to state government. Last year, before the start of the 2013 legislative session, the University of Alaska-Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) said about state finances, “[r]ight now, the state is on a path it can’t sustain. … Reasonable assumptions .. 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.”
Rather than heed the warning, in the last two years the state has gone backwards, with the legislature passing and Governor signing back to back the two largest deficit budgets in Alaska’s history and in the same period, depleting the state’s savings accounts by $6 billion, or over a third of the level that existed at the time the last legislature was elected in 2012.
The state cannot afford to continue to go backwards. Even if SB 21 works as planned to increase revenues, at current spending levels the state Legislative Finance Division has estimated that the state will be out of savings near the end of this decade. ISER and others have said at that point Alaskans will be facing the necessity of a “broad based [sales or income] tax and use of a portion of the earnings of the Permanent Fund” to maintain even minimal levels of state government.
In essence those currently leading state government are in the process of making life very difficult for those that want to continue to work and live in this state beyond the end of this decade.
Today I am taking the next step in my effort to restore fiscal responsibility to state government by sending a questionnaire to all of the legislative candidates in the general election, providing them with background and asking them to respond to specific questions related to their past and future positions on state fiscal policy. A copy of the questionnaire is available here.
The candidates have been asked to respond to the questionnaire by August 27. A copy of their responses will be posted subsequent to that date. The results will be used to help identify the legislative races in which the independent expenditure effort will participate this fall. I anticipate making the decision on specific races in early September and intensifying the effort thereafter.