Community Perspective

We live in interesting times in Alaska

Alaska voted to give away money, including oil credits, to the oil companies. Alaska “decided” in that vote to not act like a prudent landowner or taxing entity. Too many Alaskans believed the oil pitch of Alaska’s immediate return to 1 million barrels per day. Ironically, recent publications announced that Alaska would see the lowest oil throughput levels since the 1970s startup of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. Since that vote, Alaska received billions and billions and billions less money under Senate Bill 21. Alas, Alaska has not received the oil volumes pitched by oil’s advocates before the vote.

It perplexes me to listen to complaints, by SB 21 proponents, that the University of Alaska budget is slashed $135 million. What did they think was going to occur when voting for SB 21? Yes, the loss of revenue measured in billions of dollars was deftly hidden after the vote through spending savings from the Constitutional Budget Reserve and Statutory Budget Reserve. But during the last half-dozen years more than $15 billion in savings are forever gone. Surely the thought must have entered the minds of SB 21 proponents that SB 21 was not revenue neutral. Do SB 21 proponents have buyer’s remorse? They should.

Alaska’s current budgetary shortfall is not of today’s making. The shortfall flows directly from the oil-purchased election. The fiscal shortfall Alaska faces in 2019 was created when the current governor was in the Alaska Senate. The current lieutenant governor was a ConocoPhillips employee and was also in the Senate when the billions were given away. Multiple senators at the time of the SB 21 vote were directly employed by the companies, which immediately, and yearly since the vote, received the billions and billions of dollars. Don’t expect them to have remorse for giving away Alaska’s resource wealth. If you have lost or likely will lose something due to budget cuts or loss of your PFD, vote those scoundrels out of office.

We live in interesting times. Loose language of “right-sized” government is thrown around. Right-sized language and other discredited thinking nearly took down Kansas. What language will be used in Alaska from the well-financed oil advocates to induce you to buy into additional failed outcomes? Oil’s political campaign pitches of “no decline after ’99,” “1 million barrels” and “cuts will pay for themselves” didn’t work. Please don’t believe oil’s next too-good-to-be-true pitch.

A prudent landowner and an average taxing entity would receive billions more from the sale of Alaska’s oil resource than Alaska currently receives.

Returning to the university and the massive cuts to UAF, a July 2019 McKinsey study of USA job growth points to regional economies based around “mega-cities.” Two-thirds of the jobs created in the United Stated occurred in the top 25 mega-cities. Relevant to Alaska is another area of growth, leading young people to search for employment in that area, which is in small cities with top-tier research institutions. I advance that our golden goose is UAF with its world recognized top-tier research. Haters can denounce education or government or both, but those top-tier institutions are where the future is moving to. In the near term and long term, Fairbanks will have given away its brighter future unless Alaska’s top-tier research institution is saved. Please save the university.

Dunleavy uses a “crisis” he voted to create to now act indiscriminately in destroying Alaska’s future. He moves to decimate Alaska’s centers of knowledge and to destroy our community values of art, music and sports. He plots to suppress and crush science. His conduct proves he dislikes government, and his vetoes prove he rejects the values that only an education can provide to society. His failure to inform Alaska’s residents or the Legislature of the veto impacts is only consistent with his lack of vision and a ploy to avoid responsibility for his conduct. Do not listen to what he says. Look at Dunleavy’s conduct to determine how destructive his belief system really is. His shallow words are only smoke screens and cannot be trusted.

We do live in interesting times, a saying known as a Chinese curse.

Joe Paskvan is a Fairbanks attorney who served in the Alaska Senate from 2009-12.

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