SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Fact versus fiction

By Rep. Dan Ortiz


July 09, 2017
Sunday AM

As an elected official, it’s my responsibility to keep Alaskans informed with factual and relevant information about the issues that affect them. As I write I’m busy working for you up in Juneau, so here’s a quick rundown of fact versus fiction.

MYTH: We haven’t made significant budget cuts

FACTS: Since I entered office in January 2015, we have cut the operating budget by approximately 44 percent. These cuts are not deferrals on payments to future years. We have ended countless programs, there are 2,500 less state employees than there were in 2014, and there were direct pink slip non-retention notices given to 77 employees. In the process the different state agencies heaped more responsibility on remaining state employees as their coworkers retired or moved to the private sector and those vacant positions stay unfilled.

MYTH: State entitlement costs are skyrocketing, and there are Alaskans on lifetime welfare.

FACT: These costs have been reduced - that’s not always good for us. Reductions in assistance for poor working families, vulnerable children, seniors, and the disabled strain our communities and their economies. I have worked to insulate senior, disability and Day Habilitation services from drastic reductions proposed by others in the Legislature, but some cuts have been made. There is no such program as lifetime welfare. All programs have a capped time period, with a reasonable allowance for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families extension if parents are able to prove that they are employed at least part time, and actively pursuing more work.

MYTH: The required financial contribution of residents living in organized boroughs and municipalities to education can be eliminated.

FACT: With a significant financial investment, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough brought this issue to the all the way to the Alaska Supreme Court. I became convinced that the KGB had a solid argument as a basis for their case. Unfortunately the AK Supreme Court did not see it that way and the requirement was upheld.

This session I put forth an amendment to a proposed bill that would have given a deduction of up to 50% of the amount of property tax an Alaskan resident paid who resided in an organized borough or community that is required to pay the 2.8 mill levy for state education costs. I am the only legislator in the history of this required contribution to have done so. Though the bill and amendment did not pass, while I’m office I pledge to continue to try and find ways to bring about parity and fairness on this issue.

MYTH: A representative introduced legislation to allow the Bethel census area to form a cost-free municipality

FACT: The legislator who introduced legislation to allow the Y/K census area to form a borough without the tax consequences of borough formation is a Senate Majority Caucus leadership member.

I work for you, your friends, and neighbors, and I’m happy to hear from you. You can call my office at 247-9072, or email me at to comment on any issues on your mind, get more information about state services, or chat with me about policy.

Rep. Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, Alaska


Received July 07, 2017 - Published July 09, 2017



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