SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Our Obligation: The People of Alaska

By Rep. Dan Ortiz


March 26, 2016
Saturday AM

I have the honor of serving as your representative in the Alaska State Legislature. The major issue facing our legislature this session is Alaska’s fiscal situation. I’m committed to the practice of a government of the people, by the people and for the people. I spend a lot of time communicating with constituents across our district, from Hyder in the south, to Wrangell in the north. I seek to hear from our friends and neighbors about the issues on their minds. Our district does not always come to a consensus, but most of us agree that we need to continue making smart cuts in government spending while we look for new revenue sources.

We need to put Alaska on a sustainable budget path. The question of how has attracted a diverse variety of opinion, but there is clear widespread agreement throughout our district and the rest of Alaska that the Legislature must gracefully manage our fiscal decline (a 3.7 billion dollar deficit) and that the budget gap must be addressed immediately. There is also common understanding that the solution must be a combination of three actions:

1. Significant budget reductions

2. Protecting our Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend program while simultaneously using a portion of the earnings to fund state services (the irony? Using some earnings now is the only way to ensure the dividend will continue to be issued two years from now – if we don’t restructure, we will simply be out of money!)

3. New revenue sources.

I will push for a solution to the fiscal situation that includes all three of these actions, for which Alaskans have shown support. Last year I voted to cut the budget by $900 million dollars. I support continued surgical cuts in spending while we review new revenue options to combat the gap caused by our dwindling oil industry.

Our obstacle in the journey to balance Alaska’s budget is the leadership of the House and Senate Majorities. They say we need only to indiscriminately cut state services. In the last three years, the operating budget has been reduced almost in half from $8 billion to $4.7 billion. If we continue taking wild swings at the budget, we will put Alaskans at risk, because impulsive cutting can trigger a recession.

After we cut the budget past bare bones, they want to use permanent fund earnings. The problem with their position is that it will force the legislature to use a significantly bigger portion of our dwindling savings accounts. This will result in budget reductions that fall on the backs of our senior citizens, (the Pioneer Home program, senior benefits), Rural Alaska, and will conflict with our official priorities as stated in our Alaskan Constitution.

As I stated on the House Floor on Friday, March 18, closing Alaska’s budget gap is not a partisan issue. It’s not about the best interests of Democrats or Republicans. It’s about our responsibility as legislators to act in the best interest of all Alaskans, and Alaska as a whole. I’m committed to the work, building of bridges, and necessary compromise to create a solution in the best interest of Alaska.

Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, Alaska

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

Received March 23, 2016 - Published March 26, 2016


Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor


Representations of fact and opinions in letters are solely those of the author.
The opinions of the author do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.

E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for letter publication.

Published letters become the property of SitNews.

SitNews ©2016
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

Articles & photographs that appear in SitNews may be protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without written permission from and payment of any required fees to the proper sources.

E-mail your news & photos to

Photographers choosing to submit photographs for publication to SitNews are in doing so granting their permission for publication and for archiving. SitNews does not sell photographs. All requests for purchasing a photograph will be emailed to the photographer.