Daily Archives: May 27, 2015

#ShellNo or #ShellYes: A Debate on Arctic Development

Yesterday, Rep. Charisse Millett, Majority Leader, Alaska House of Representatives, Kshama Sawant, a member of the Seattle City Council, Glen Hiemstra, a Futurist and I debated Shell’s Arctic exploration plans on The Stream, a globally broadcast online program from Aljazeera.

Interestingly, the debate mostly turned into a “Seattle trying to tell Alaska how to do things” discussion.  That never ends well for Seattle.

The background and some related materials are available here.  The full debate — which is about 35 minutes — is at the link above and worth the listen if you are interested in the subject.

Time to complete Gov. Hammond’s vision

Hammond bill signingThe following ran as a My Turn piece in both the online and print editions of the Juneau Empire under the headline “Time to complete Governor Hammond’s vision” (Tuesday, May 12, 2015), as a Community Perspective piece in both the online and print editions of the Fairbanks News-Miner under the same headline (Thursday, May 21, 2015), and as a Commentary in both the online (Friday, May 22, 2015) and print (Saturday, May 23, 2015) editions of the Alaska Dispatch News under the headline “It’s time to use Permanent Fund earnings for government services.”

Former Governor Jay Hammond said this when later describing the reasons he and others created the Permanent Fund:  “I wanted to transform oil wells pumping oil for a finite period into money wells pumping money for infinity.”  Once the money wells were pumping, “[e]ach year one-half of the account’s earnings would be dispersed among Alaska residents …. The other half of the earnings could be used for essential government services.”

The two-sentence constitutional provision establishing the Permanent Fund (Art. 9, Section 15) implements that vision.  The first sentence locks away the “the principal” of the Permanent Fund, creating the “money wells pumping money for infinity.”

The second sentence provides the vehicle for using the resulting “production,” by directing that “[a]ll income from the permanent fund shall be deposited in the general fund unless otherwise provided by law.” Four years after voters established the Permanent Fund the legislature solidified the direction, providing that that the income stream is to be used for three purposes:  to pay dividends, to protect the principal from inflation and to fund a reserve account, available when needed to pay for essential government services. Continue reading

Alaska’s Budget: Status, Background and Where We Are Headed Next

Earlier this month I was asked to make a presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Alaska Republican Assembly on the current state of Alaska’s budget.  A video of a portion of the presentation is at the top; the slidedeck I used below it.

Toward the end of the videotaped portion I was asked “if I were King” how I would deal with the resolving the current (FY 2016) budget stalemate.  The answer begins at 39:45 of the video.

Alaska’s Fiscal Challenge: How deep, how long, potential solutions and what they mean for Anchorage

Last month, Joe Riggs, a member of the Anchorage Mayor’s Budget Advisory Commission, and I were asked to make a presentation to the Commission on the current state of the Alaska state budget and the potential implications for the Municipality’s budget.

The conclusion?  Continuing reductions in state support, and, potentially, encroachment on the Municipality’s revenue options.  In other words, squeezed from both ends.

The slide deck we used is at the link above, or available here.