The following ran as a Community Perspective piece in both the online and print editions of the Fairbanks News-Miner (Wednesday, January 28, p. A6) under the headline “Gov. Walker on track to sustainable budget,” as a Commentary in both the online and print editions of the Anchorage Dispatch News (Thursday, January 29, p. B4) under the headline “The urgent need for a sustainable Alaska budget,” and as a My Turn piece in both the online and print editions of the Juneau Empire (Tuesday, February 3, p. __) under the headline “Urgent need for a sustainable budget.”
During the fall, a large number of candidates campaigned on the theme of putting in place a sustainable budget. For example, on his campaign website Governor Bill Walker said this, “I will make the hard choices necessary for a sounder fiscal future, including putting in place a sustainable budget.”
When asked during the campaign what they meant by sustainable budgets, most candidates, including Governor Walker, referred to work on the subject by Dr. Scott Goldsmith of the University of Alaska-Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER). According to Goldsmith, a sustainable budget is a spending level which, if implemented today can be maintained indefinitely into the future, adjusted for inflation and population growth.
In other words it is a baseline revenue level which both current and future Alaskans can count on indefinitely without resorting to income or sales taxes or a diversion of the permanent fund dividend. Continue reading