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EDITOR, Daily News:
It is wrong to say that Alaska’s ongoing fiscal crisis originated in the fall in oil prices, as that would ascribe a purely economic cause to what is fundamentally a political one: the establishment’s decision to impose a regressive austerity instead of raise progressive revenue.
For the last four years, the ruthless Republican Senate leadership and the feckless Walker administration have relentlessly exploited the oil revenue shortfall in order to play Alaskans who value the Alaska Permanent Fund divided against Alaskans who rely upon essential public services. The end result of this engineered division has been to weaken both the PFD and Alaska’s public services, to the exclusive benefit of the rich and the oil companies, who would otherwise have had to pay increased taxes. Alaskans have seen their dividend checks halved, their public safety reduced, their Medicaid program underfunded, their schools and Pioneer Homes cut, their infrastructure deteriorate, and their state’s savings vanish. This has harmed Alaska’s economy, lowered the overall quality of life, made us more vulnerable to a national recession, and placed almost the entire financial burden on those Alaskans making less than $100,000 a year.
Mike Dunleavy, with his opportunistic promises of a full PFD at the expense of public education, healthcare, infrastructure, the Pioneer Homes, and the marine highway system, will only prolong our current political crisis further. The PFD would continue to be squared off against essential services, weakening both.
Alaskans need a governor who will honestly work tirelessly to protect both the permanent fund dividend and our public services and I believe that governor is former Sen. Mark Begich. If he is elected, Mark Begich has promised to use his gubernatorial authority and his veto pen to increase the PFD to $1,900, to oppose any further dividend taxation, and to prevent further cuts to essential public services. This would mark the beginning of the end of our fiscal crisis and that is why I will be casting my vote for Sen. Begich on Nov. 6.