Mike Cronk

Mike Cronk

House District 6

Republican

Q: The Legislature’s Permanent Fund Working Group issued a report in January outlining three options for the future of the PFD. The group only agreed on one thing: the draw of the permanent fund earnings reserve, including the dividend payment, should not exceed 5.25% of the fund’s market value. 

The other options include: 1) a full dividend in line with the 1982 formula in state statute, 2) a standard yearly $1,600 dividend, and 3) a concept referred to as the “surplus dividend” that would pay out what’s left after government is funded, an amount that could vary depending on government funding levels.  

What change, if any, do you support making to the permanent fund dividend formula? Explain. 

A: I support no changes to the permanent fund dividend formula. Unless it is changed by a vote of the people, we should be following the current statute.

Q: Do you support continued use of the state’s Constitutional Budget Reserve savings account to fund the government? Why or why not? 

A: With the current state of the budget and the decrease of revenue coming in, I believe we will have to draw “some” funds out of the CBR, which has been used for past budgets. It will be needed to balance a fiscally responsible budget, so I would not want to take this option off the table.

Q: Is it time for Alaska to have a statewide sales or income tax? Explain. 

A: No. We live in one of the wealthiest states in the U.S., and we need to get our spending under control before implementing any sort of tax on the people of Alaska. We should not punish Alaskans by previous overspending of funds.

Q: An initiative on the November general election ballot seeks to repeal Senate Bill 21 and change the state’s oil and gas tax system. Should Alaska change its oil and gas tax system? Explain. 

A: No. Currently with COVID-19, we should not be increasing any sort of tax on anyone. SB21 has done a good job with providing revenue and continued investment for more development and oil production now and in the future.

Q: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the state’s COVID-19 response? Explain

A: I am satisfied with the state’s current COVID-19 response.

Q: In June, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz approved a municipality-wide policy mandating the wearing of masks in public indoor spaces. Many boroughs and municipalities do not have the powers to enact policies of that nature. Would you support a statewide policy requiring the wearing of masks or cloth face coverings in public spaces? Explain. 

A: No. I do not support a statewide mask mandate.

Q: The University of Alaska narrowly avoided financial exigency last year after state funding for the university was cut by $25 million. The university has sustained annual cuts in state funding since 2012. Do you support the budget cuts the university has seen? Explain. 

A: I do support the cuts to the university system. The university is a valuable entity for our state, but we must examine the efficiency of existing programs, make sure we aren’t teaching programs that the private sector provides, and focus on providing a quality education in areas where we excel.

Q: Alaska’s prison system is the number one provider of mental health services in the state. What, if anything, should the state do to improve mental health and substance abuse services across the state? 

A: Mental health and substance abuse are a huge problem for our state. We must begin to provide proper help for those in need. By investing money in helping people, we will save more in the long run and we will be giving the people that need the help the proper care to get healthy and live productive lives.

Q: In the wake of George Floyd’s death at the end of May, large-scale reforms in law enforcement and policing are being called for across the country with specific calls for de-escalation, mental health and racial prejudice training and more transparency and attention to police misconduct. What, if anything, do you propose for Alaska? Explain

A: Obviously any sort of police misconduct is unacceptable, period. I believe that we can always work to be better. The awareness that has been brought to light will lead to changes and training that will give them the tools that address the issues and will lead to having better officers/law enforcement.

Q: Nearly one-third of the Interior rural communities represented by Tanana Chiefs Conference have no running water village-wide. What steps would you take to improve village sanitation?  

A: We need to continue to work towards everyone having running water and proper sanitation in all of our villages! I will work with all entities including the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and work to secure the funding, whether it is state or federal, to make sure this happens. I’ve dealt with this personally, while I lived in Northway while the Safe Water and Sewer program was implemented there.

Q: Alaska’s fish and game boards have historically consisted of hunters and fishers. Should the boards have one or more seats designated for representatives of non-consumptive uses of Alaska’s fish and wildlife?

A: The boards are currently open to all people. There is no reason to have a seat designated for any user group.

Q: The governor last year introduced legislation to repeal the authority of a local government to levy its property tax on oil and gas properties within its jurisdiction and to repeal the related credit for that amount an oil company receives against the state tax on the same properties. Last year, owners of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline paid the Fairbanks North Star Borough $11.4 million in property taxes. Do you support or oppose repeal of these provisions?

A: This needs more discussion and evaluation. I personally don’t want to take away local control or the ability for local support of programs.

Q: Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed $50 million in state Medicaid funding in 2019 and $31 million in 2020, resulting in losses in coverage for Alaskans on Medicaid and payments for providers through the Medicaid program. Do you support this decision to cut state spending for Medicaid? Explain.

A: Medicaid needs to be reevaluated. We participate in every plan available through Medicaid. We need more info on which parts of Medicaid are the most utilized by those in need. We also need to be aware of the fraud that is also taking place against the program.

Q: Three former legislators, one former lieutenant governor and one former attorney general have either resigned from office or dropped out of reelection campaigns in the last three years due to sexual misconduct allegations against them. How do you think the state should handle situations of sexual misconduct involving state officials? Explain.

A: The state already has protocols in place for sexual misconduct involving state officials. Let’s make sure it is being followed. If we are following what is already in place, nothing more is needed. All sexual misconduct cases should be taken seriously and dealt with immediately. Sexual misconduct isn't acceptable at any level of the state government or anywhere else for that matter.

Q: Do you support public schools opening fully for in-person education in the spring semester? Why or why not?

A: Yes, I support schools being open fully.  Districts have protocols in place and mitigation plans if needed.  It has come to a point where we are causing more damage to kids by not having them in school.  The mental health aspect of the children needs to be taken into account as well as the welfare of the child. We need to make sure that the schools are safe and ready to educate students.

Q: Would you support the implementation of state funded hazard pay for essential workers such as health care personnel, teachers and public safety employees who must continue to work during the pandemic? Explain.

A: No, I would not support state-funded hazard pay. I believe that everyone involved can work as safe as possible with the safety mandates that are in place by the state. Everyone needs to practice the proper safety measures.

Q: Areas of the Pinnell Mountain Trail were destroyed by four-wheelers used by hunters this fall during the Fortymile caribou hunt. It will cost the federal Bureau of Land Management thousands of dollars to repair. How would you approach the issue of land use disputes between hunters and non-consumptive land users and the different authorities of state and federal agencies?

A: Obviously land use issues are not new to the state. I believe that the entities involved should be working in cooperation with each other when it comes to these situations. When thousands of people are in one area, there are going to be issues like this. We need to bring groups together and work through these issues prior to these situations occurring versus after.