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Community Perspective

Alaska, our free ride is over

The government exists to promote the general welfare of the great state of Alaska. I think that our legislators and governor are failing miserably in promoting the general welfare of our state.

I was born in Alaska and have lived here all my life and plan to continue living here for the rest of my days. I have raised my children here and worked a job since I was 14 years old. Alaskans have come to expect the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend, and it’s been great to get over all these years, but I also expect services to be provided that promote the general welfare of our state.

It is high time to realize that the well has dried up, the freebies are over, the resources have been sucked dry.

I have a daughter in college at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a foster son who was supposed to start this fall at UAF, both of whom will likely not attend this semester because this governor has no problem with taking away scholarships in the blink of an eye a month before the students are to return to school. My kids worked hard through high school to earn those scholarships. I think it’s only fair that the governor and his staff work for free so they can can see how it feels to work hard to accomplish goals and then have no reward afterward.

The Power Cost Equalization program is on the cutting board as well. What a blow to rural residents. Anchorage pays an average of 17 cents per kilowatt hour. Here in the rural village it’s 65 cents per kwh, and then the PCE brings it down to 35 cents kwh, still double the price that the metropolitan areas pay. Senior benefits were cut. Some seniors only survive on the maximum Supplemental Security Income funds of $750 per month or $9,000 a year, so those senior benefits meant meals or medicine, which is mainly what the elderly need. Medicaid cuts, talk about hitting the poorest of individuals in our state, the college students, low income and elderly.

And yet, our leaders still want to give free money out to people who have only been residents for one year. And many of them will leave after they receive that dividend. This is a magnificent state, with abundant potential for revenue, and our legislators and governor need to get to work and figure out how to make that happen. Giving away free money when you have a debt and bills due is ridiculous. If it is feasible to give a smaller dividend without making drastic cuts to services throughout our state, then I’m in favor of it. If not, then I’m fine without a dividend at all.

Maybe cutting education funding is what got us into this mess in the first place because they aren’t educated enough to know better, and if education isn’t even registering as a priority, then we are surely on a downhill slope. The welfare of the people, the animals and our land is what matters, and their pride over winning and sticking to their campaign promises no matter the consequences is just as stupid as the people who think global warming isn’t an issue even though they are frying in 110 degree weather.

Education and having a heart will get you so much further than greed and pride. I hope and pray that the people in positions of governing authority are guided by good conscience and think hard about the devastation that they may be causing people.

Christine Erhart lives in Tanana.

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