You've probably said it yourself, "There's no silver bullet." The issues facing Alaskans are many, so there's not a single solution that will fix everything. But there is a web of solutions that could and should be applied. In fact, let's leave no stone, no idea, unturned in the quest to provide for the "maximum benefit of the people" (Alaska Constitution, Section 8).
How are issues inter related? For example, retaining jobs and the high cost of energy is within the Governor's and the Legislature's control through contracts with the producers and the in-state refiners of our royalty oil. Simplistically, the lower the cost to the refineries, the lower the cost to the consumer; the lower the cost to the refineries, the more capable they are of competing with outside refineries, and therefore keeping our neighbors and family members employed (instead of the current incremental shutting down of the royalty oil based refinery). Keep the refineries open and you create other jobs, for example on the Alaska Railroad, Port of Anchorage, and at Fairbanks International and Ted Stevens International airports, to name a few employers benefiting.
Or, getting natural gas to North Pole. The cost to the consumer is directly related to the volume being used in a community. Fairbanks doesn't consume a vast amount, now or in the foreseeable future. However, the State of Alaska's Department of Natural Resources states there are 7000 mineral occurrences between North Pole and the Canadian boarder, but only 7 operating mines in all Alaska. Current permitting of a mine takes anywhere from 14 years (Ft. Knox and Pogo) to 28 years (Kensington). A mining engineer can graduate from UAF and spend his or her entire career providing income only to bureaucrats and attorneys--without ever working an actual mine, or creating wealth, or creating jobs and opportunities for the greater community and the good of Alaska! This is unacceptable. Once a mine opens, an industry cluster forms and when several mines open the economies of scale are created that make manufacturing possible, employing even more Alaskans. What do mines need? The same thing most businesses need: 1. Affordable energy, 2. reliable access, and 3. a trained work force. So getting back to how this applies to natural gas and Interior Alaska, get the mines between here and Canada open and we create the demand for a large diameter gas pipeline all the way to Valdez, benefiting us with job creation, and export to the larger markets abroad, giving an affordable cost to the residents in the vast rural and interior regions of Alaska.
How do either of these issues affect the State budget? Simply, if we continue to base the health of the State only upon the size of its savings account without placing an emphasis on the economy of the various regions within this vast state, we will soon be bankrupt. When we gouge ourselves and pass the savings along to those who live outside the State, when times get tough, we're the ones who notably get hurt, and then we either turn to the State for a safety net or we end up moving out of state. The Health and Social Services budget, the social safety net, grew by $500 million (that's one half billion dollars!) this past year alone, from FY12 to FY13. One half billion dollars is what the estimated cost is to build a gas bullet line from Fairbanks to Glennallen and Valdez. When you put people to work in the private sector, they usually can pay their own bills without relying on assistance, thus allowing the budget to shrink. If we continue on our present course, with public assistance costing us almost $3 Billion, and our oil revenues staying at a weak $8 Billion--or less, you can see why the State will soon be broke. I elaborate on these issues in the links attached to this tab.
Like what you hear? Follow me on the issues by hitting on the developed links. Be sure to leave your comments, I want to hear from you. And come back often to see what's newly posted. Unlike some candidates for office, I won't come with "secret" solutions. I'll tell you my ideas and hope that it resonates with you and other elected officials so that we can move this state forward. After all, it's not about me; it doesn't matter who gets the credit (is there really such a thing as an original idea?). What matters is that you can afford to live, work, play and invest in Alaska. It's all about Putting Alaskans First!