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Community Perspective

Alaska’s budget problem isn’t revenue, it’s spending

I have never in my lifetime ever seen so much division between the public, media and government politicians, both in the state and federal governments.

The personnel attacks on my governor and my president are absurd. First of all, show some class if you cannot like the person in office. At least respect the office.

Attacking Gov. Mike Dunleavy is showing bad form at this point. He is just the messenger, period, a practice that has been taboo since before Christ’s time.

Referencing political discussion on Alaska’s income stream, from about 1990 through present it has been considered politically incorrect to support new oil development in Alaska.

That idea has some merit if you support reducing the carbon footprint.

I understand that. I do not support that. Like it or not, that thinking methodology set the stage for why today we have a very low oil flow rate from the North Slope oil fields.

Alyeska sent out numerous memos on that in the past years. The logic is simple: By pumping more oil, more money flows into Alaska’s treasury, thereby increasing the amount of funds available to the Legislature to spend. We are reaping what we sowed. It is not Dunleavy’s fault.

Flash back to 2009 where we had a governor — Sarah Palin — who saw this train wreck coming and decided to get off the train at that time. I remember her statement while running for vice president right after that: “Drill, baby, drill.”

Wow, talk about good, timely advice. However, we, the people of Alaska, missed the chance to pick up that ball and run with it. Hence we’re paying for it now.

In hindsight she was 200% correct.

That’s the leadership we needed. Remember, she quit us and moved on. Remember back then you were a bad person if you wanted to increase pumping crude oil.

It may be more appropriate now to blame those who supported that thought. That’s if you have a need to blame someone.

During that time until present is when we Alaskans allowed the state budget to skyrocket. More bad leadership. We had it backward: less money coming in more going out.

We should spend only the money we actually have in hand, period. It’s called a balanced budget.

We have met the enemy and it is our leaders and ourselves.

Now is the time for us to pay the piper. We need to cut the budget. We cannot support the overspending we allowed in the past. Those days were gone years ago.

Yes, that hurts. Everyone’s personal pet program will be effected, including my personal ones. Again, this is not Dunleavy’s fault.

To solve a problem, one needs to deeply understand the problem first.

Alaskans do not have a current tax problem.

Alaskans do not have a current income problem.

Alaskans have a spending problem.

Simple as that.

One blatant example: The Tanana River Crossing bridge to nowhere near Eielson Air Force Base that was built in 2014 for $187 million, with $84 million of that coming from the state and the rest from the federal government.

There are many more projects just like this and many more proposed.

We need to focus on reducing spending. We need to reduce new projects, waste, payrolls, travel, lawsuits, etc. Sure there many more projects and services we would like; however, we cannot afford them right now.

Raising taxes or raiding the Alaska Permanent Fund is not the solution.

Irresponsible folks will just overspend again and be back next year to do it again.

As a taxpayer, I do not want to bail out the irresponsible folks through increased taxes or raiding the permanent fund.

I know everyone, including myself, has a special reason why a special program should be exempt. Yes, I support some of them.

But please consider reasonable and logical fiscal restraint.

Again, it’s the overspending that is the problem.

Jim Gibertoni is a longtime Fairbanks resident. He is the former owner of Aaron Plumbing & Heating.

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