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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

The Governor’s Budget

By Rep. Dan Ortiz


January 24, 2017
Tuesday AM

Letter to the Editor:

Governor Walker submitted a budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year, which includes three primary items: cuts in government spending, increased revenue, and the use of some Permanent Fund earnings, which is a separate fund from where we collect our dividend.

During his State of the State, Governor Walker emphasized the significant cuts we’ve made since 2015. We’ve cut the budget from $8 billion to $5 billion. We’ve cut government spending by 44%. When factoring in inflation and population growth, our current spending is equal to our spending in the late 1970’s – before oil was a major part of Alaska’s revenue. The cuts were substantial and necessary, and there is still room for lawmakers to make smart, surgical cuts.

However, we will need to find new sources of revenue in order to close the fiscal gap. Governor Walker’s plan does not include an income tax, but it does include an increase in Motor Fuel Tax.

Although Governor Walker’s plan to include some Permanent Fund earnings may at first glance seem to endanger our dividend checks, the appropriations would only be sourced from the Earnings Reserve Account (ERA) and would ultimately save the PFD into the future. If we do not take this or similar action, our dividend will be $0 in 2018.

Due to the significant reduction in spending in other areas, the administration has been able to protect Education and Fish & Game from substantial cuts. I am pleased that his plan does not take significant funding away from our education system, and even includes a 0.3% increase to the Fish & Game budget in the interest of managing our natural resources for the maximum benefit of Alaskans.

As the Chair of the Finance Budget Subcommittee for both Education and Fish & Game, I will directly influence and create the budget in these two particular areas, as well as have input on the budget as a whole. I am in the best position possible to advocate for southern Southeast Alaska.

We are in a financial crisis, and the legislature must do everything possible to put Alaska on a sustainable fiscal path into the future. My primary goal this session is to pass a budget that is beneficial for southern Southeast Alaska and all Alaska.

Rep. Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, Alaska

Received January 19, 2017 - Published January 24, 2017

About: About: Dan Ortiz is an independent member of the Alaska House of Representatives, who has since 2015 represented the 36th District.



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