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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Fiscal situation solutions proposed

By Dan Ortiz


November 29, 2015
Sunday AM

The second session of the Alaska State Legislature is fast approaching, and the Legislature should be poised to tackle our deteriorating fiscal situation. After voting in favor of cutting the operating and capital budgets by more than $900 million in my first legislative session, we were left with a $3.5 billion deficit. We are currently able to cover deficits with our savings. However, at this rate, those savings will rapidly disappear. It’s in Alaska’s best interest to responsibly manage this decline. While some may argue it’s politically expedient to ignore the issue and kick the can down the road to the next post-election legislative session, I’m convinced that would be a grave disservice to Alaskans. I’m serious about finding the right solution for Alaska; therefore, I propose the following:

  • Cut legislative per diem by 15%
  • End funding for megaprojects like the Knik Arm Bridge and the Susitna Dam, with the exception of our AK-LNG natural gas pipeline
  • Cut the annual $4.2 million lease of the Anchorage legislative building
  • Restructure parts of our current oil tax credits and rate that don’t get Alaskans a fair share for the resources we sell to oil companies

These cuts I recommend are projected at over a billion dollars. Although I believe our government can continue to cut costs by cutting in several areas and streamlining state services, it will take more than cutting government expense to reverse this decline. Even if we cut every state employee and ended all grants and departments, which is not a viable solution if we want our roads plowed and adequate support for senior services, we would still not make significant progress in closing our fiscal gap.

This is why we must reduce expenditures while simultaneously tapping new revenue options. Proposed ideas include initiating a state lottery, revamping our generous tax credit program for oil companies, or perhaps creating new taxes.

I created a survey that will help you make your voice heard on our fiscal decline and revenue options. The results of this survey will influence my votes in the upcoming legislative session as my fellow legislators and I join together to address this issue. If you have not had a chance to fill out this survey, you can reach it at or you can call my office at (907) 247-4672 to request a paper copy.

I believe empowering citizens by providing a forum in which they can share their perspective is part of the duty of a legislator, and this period of fiscal decline is as good a time as any for a town hall meeting. I’ve invited Ken Alper of the Alaska Department of Revenue to join us. He’ll go over the numbers from various scenarios in order to give us a better idea of the fiscal facts, and he will tell us about Governor Walker’s proposed solutions. I will present my survey findings and open the floor for comments, questions or suggestions. Please join me at this town hall meeting on December 1st from 6-8pm at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.

Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, Alaska

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



Received November 27, 2015 - Published November 29, 2015


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