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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
June 29, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By A.BLAKE BROWN

George Inlet
George Inlet is looking stunning as viewed from the White River Road.
Front Page Feature Photo By A.BLAKE BROWN

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Governor Walker Vetoes $1.29 Billion to Preserve State Savings; Finance Co-Chairs concerned vetoes will harm Alaska’s economy By MARY KAUFFMAN - Earlier today, Alaska Governor Bill Walker (I) used his line-item veto power to cut $1.29 billion from the FY 2017 budgets passed by the 29th Alaska Legislature. The veto includes $430 million in tax credit and other payments to the oil and gas industry down to the statutory minimum requirement of $30 million.

Governor Walker Vetoes $1.29 Billion to Preserve State Savings; Finance Co-Chairs concerned vetoes will harm Alaska’s economy

Governor Walker (I), joined by Lt. Governor Byron Mallott (D), announces his vetoes at a press availability Wednesday morning. Video capture photo

In additon to the $1.29 billion in unrestricted general fund cut vetoes, Governor Walker ordered a stop to $250 million of spending on transportation projects which included pausing the Kake-Petersburg Road project in Southeast Alaska. Other vetoes reduced government, education & University of Alaska funding by an additional $190 million. With a partial veto, the Governor also reduced the $1.362 billion permanent fund dividend appropriation by $666.4 million. The reduced fund amount of $695.6 million will maintain a maximum of $1,000 per person in future PFD distributions.

Since the Alaska legislature passed the budgets for fiscal year 2016 and fiscal year 2017 without any way to pay for them, the Governor said he used his veto authority to protect the state’s primary savings.

“Drawing down from limited savings to fund the budget is not a viable plan,” Governor Walker said. “We have a $4 billion deficit, which means the status quo is not on the menu. Despite the legislature’s inaction, I’m still going to make sure Alaskans get a sustained permanent fund dividend.”

These are some of Governor Walker’s line-item veto actions:

  • providing for a PFD check of $1,000 per person by reducing the $1.362 billion permanent fund dividend appropriation to $695.6 million
  • reduced the $430 million appropriation for oil tax credits to the Governor’s original proposal of $30 million, the statutory minimum requirement
  • reduced department spending by $38 million
    • 12 executive branch departments’ budgets have been cut 20 percent or more in the last two years
  • reduced the University’s budget by an additional $10 million
  • reduced education funding by an additional $58.3 million
    • To minimize direct impact to classrooms, base student allocation funding was reduced $6.4 million
    • Reduced school debt reimbursement and rural school construction 25 percent, $30.5 million and $10.4 million respectively

“Not a single one of these decisions was made lightly,” Governor Walker said. “I especially struggled with the funding to education, which I have consistently prioritized. But a $4 billion deficit means nothing can be insulated. What’s disappointing is this was completely avoidable. My team and I introduced a balanced plan in December that fairly distributed the burden across all demographics. Not a single measure of that plan was passed by the legislature, nor was another plan even introduced. I thank members of the Senate for having made the fiscally responsible decision to pass the Permanent Fund Protection Act—a vote some House members refused to even take.”

During the 149 days legislators were in regular, extended and special sessions, the legislature reduced $400 million, solving 10 percent of the problem and leaving 90 percent of the work undone according a news release by the Office of the Governor. Legislators’ top reasons for failing to pass the Permanent Fund Protection Act, the cornerstone of the New Sustainable Alaska Plan, were that a) state spending had not been cut enough; b) credits to oil companies needed to be reduced; or c) legislators did not want to take the political heat for reducing the PFD amount.

“I’ve now done that work; I’ve taken all their excuses off the table, so I urge legislators to come back and finish Alaska’s work,” Governor Walker said. “Alaskans, please ask your representatives and senators to do what is best for Alaska’s future; not what is best for their own political futures.”

Alaska Senator Anna MacKinnon (R-District G) responded to the news saying the Governor Walker has once again delayed paying tax credits that were legally accrued by companies working in Alaska.

"Once again the Governor has taken the easy way out and cast a cloud over new investment. In yesterday's press conference the Governor remarked that our pipeline was "3/4 empty", said MacKinnon. "Today he is dis-incentivizing the new discovery and production Alaska desperately needs. The tax credits earned since the Governor took office are the State's legal obligation. Delaying them is like throwing away a credit card bill. Putting off payment won't make it go away, it just hurts Alaska's credit with the very investors we need to help re-fill the pipeline." said Senator MacKinnon.

The veto includes $430 million in tax credit and other payments to the oil and gas industry down to the statutory minimum requirement of $30 million. The veto of the oil tax credit money is supported by members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition (AIDC) in the Alaska House of Representatives according to an AIDC news release.

“Our budget is being burdened by this unsustainable system of tax credits that results in the State of Alaska covering hundreds of millions in losses incurred by oil and gas companies, many of which are among the richest corporations on earth,” said AIDC Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). “Legislative efforts to fix this system only got part way there this year. That forced the Governor to make the bold decision to use his veto power to make sure our budget is not overwhelmed by subsidy payments to the oil industry.”


Alaska House Finance Co-Chairs Mark Neuman and Steve Thompson also released statements after the announced budget vetoes for the FY17 Statewide Operating Budget, House Bill 256, and the FY17 Capital Budget, Senate Bill 138.

“I am glad to see the Governor has further reduced the size of government, however, I am concerned that we as a state have gone back on our word for a second year in a row with regards to tax credits,” Co-Chair Mark Neuman (R-MatSu-Valley), said. “Just to be clear, these aren’t tax credits to big global companies, these are for the small, hard-working companies and Alaskan contractors. Companies aren’t going to invest in Alaska when we desperately need them to if they can’t trust us.

“Regarding the unilateral cut to the Permanent Fund Dividend amount, I’m disappointed,” Neuman said. “I understand that we have to make hard decisions to get our budget in line, but we heard strong opposition to the Governor’s plan to restructure the Permanent Fund during the last special session. My job is to represent the people.”

The Conference Committee report for the FY17 Operating Budget totaled $4.26 billion in unrestricted general funds. The day-to-day portion of the budget was roughly $1.89 billion, a 7.1 percent reduction from FY16’s operations and a 17 percent reduction from FY15.

“These are tough times for Alaska’s budget, I understand that,” Co-Chair Steve Thompson (R-Fairbanks) said. “However, I don’t agree with the vetoes the Governor made today. I echo the sentiment of Co-Chair Neuman, it’s like we’re just taking out a new credit card to pay off the old one; at some point we’re going to have to pay it off, and when we do, the amount will be much larger. We have to take care of today’s debts now, not later.

“Capital budgets create jobs, plain and simple,” Thompson said. “In our current fiscal situation we need to make sure our economy stays strong. We don’t have a lot of roads in Alaska, so when you cut eight statewide road construction projects totaling $250 million, you’re cutting a lot of jobs.”

Earlier this month, the Alaska Legislature narrowly approved House Bill 247, which the Governor signed today. The bill partially fixes some of the flaws in the system of providing tax credits to the oil and gas industry, but the members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition opposed the bill because it continues unsustainable subsidies that will cost Alaska hundreds of millions of dollars a year, especially if oil prices remain low. Specifically, HB 247 did not address the unsustainable credit system on the North Slope that results in the State covering 35 percent of oil company losses, even if they pay little or no production tax.

“Paying out more in tax credits than we receive in production taxes doesn’t make sense and is just bad business. I want to thank Governor Walker for his leadership and courage in using his veto pen as a short-term solution,” said Rep. Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan). “I remain hopeful that a long-term solution can be achieved that will allow us to deal with this flawed system once and for all.” - More...
Wednesday PM - June 29, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Susan Stamper Brown

SUSAN STAMPER BROWN: Brexit: Globalism is at the Gate - Globalists must be shivering in their boots after the United Kingdom's Brexit vote.

It's hard for elitists to comprehend that the commoners they seek to control aren't obsessed with money and power the same way they are. Ordinary people care more about freedom, their kids' future and their country than they care about the mighty Euro or dollar.

Not even President Obama's effervescence was able to sway Britons when he visited the U.K. in an effort to prevent his beloved globalism from crumbling the same way communism fell years back.

Global elitists in the United States, also known as Progressives, surely cringe at things to come, given the mood of voters across America. Just like in Great Britain, huge swaths of ordinary Americans are disgusted that the very essence of this country is being steamrolled by those who wish to turn America into a religion-less, genderless, custom-less European mini-me.

The left's worn-out tactic of name-calling, labeling people as bigots, homophobes, xenophobes or racists isn't working. The more they hurl accusations, the bigger the movement grows.

Globalists fail to understand human psyche. They don't get that humans are hardwired with an innate desire for freedom, and the longer it is repressed the stronger the desire grows. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 29, 2016

jpg Robert R. Garver

MOVIE REVIEW: Independence Day: Resurgence By BOB GARVER - A sequel to the 1996 alien invasion flick “Independence Day” has been batted around for years. It certainly made sense, the original climbed to #6 at the all-time domestic box office during its release. All that was needed for a sequel was a decent script and for Will Smith to agree to step back into the role of Captain Steven Hiller. Who am I kidding? “Independence Day: Resurgence” would have settled for a flimsy script as long as it got Will Smith. It ended up settling for a flimsy script and no Will Smith.

Returning characters include Jeff Goldblum as scientist David Levinson, Judd Hirsh as his comic relief father, Bill Pullman as now-former President Thomas Whitmore, Vivica A. Fox as Hiller’s widow, and Brent Spiner as comic relief scientist Brakish Okun. Okun is the most surprising return since he appeared to be killed in the original.

Returning-but-recast characters include Jessie Usher as Hiller’s fighter-pilot stepson and Maika Monroe as Whitmore’s fighter-pilot daughter. New characters include Liam Hemsworth, Travis Tope, and Angelbaby as more fighter pilots; Sela Ward as the new President; William Fichtner as an over-pressured general; Charlotte Gainsbourg as a scientist and love interest for David; and my personal favorite, Deobia Oparei as an alien-obsessed Congolese warlord. I love it when otherwise villainous characters step up in the name of saving humanity. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 29, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Benghazi Truthers

Editorial Cartoon: Benghazi Truthers
By Pat Bagley ©2016, Salt Lake Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter WISH Situation is Dire By Diane Gubatayao - By now it is well known that since September 2015, Women In Safe Homes (WISH) has been on probation with the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA), the State agency responsible for funding and administrative oversight of 18 shelters throughout Alaska. The original probation document cited nine systemic issues involving staff, participants and community partners. I do not believe it is productive at this time to debate the merits of the probation. I trust that a State agency comprised of a Commissioner and assistant State Attorney General, among others, has done due diligence before imposing such a serious sanction. To their credit, many associated with WISH have made the effort to meet the requirements outlined by CDVSA. However, we have learned recently that the situation is dire with the exit of five Board members and some staff, and continued problems with WISH management and leadership highlighted by CDVSA. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 29, 2016

letter GOVERNOR, THE NEXT CUP OF COFFEE IS ON ME By Richard Peterson - Earlier this month, I wrote a commentary on whether or not the 2014 “Unity Team” would keep its promise to steer away from litigation against Alaska tribes and instead work towards improving tribal relations. Today’s commentary is a follow-up to express my gratitude to the Walker Administration for not appealing the recent Alaska Supreme Court decision in State of Alaska v. Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. This important court ruling affirms that Alaska tribal courts, some of whom already handle custody, adoption, and paternity for tribal children, can also decide child support. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 29, 2016

letter PART 12: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - Voting for Bob Sivertsen for state representative in the upcoming election is the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a fire that is already out of control. I have nothing personal against Bob Sivertsen. I hear he is a moderate conservative “who hasn’t run into a local social program he hasn’t enthusiastically supported.” But what Bob calls ‘leadership’ I call sheepishness, and that limitation is a disaster in the making because these folks up north who call themselves Republicans are anything but, yet Bob Sivertsen will still follow that bunch wherever they go. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 29, 2016

letter Local radio dropping RUSH By A.M.Johnson - The following is written as a public service. Recently KTKN radio station announced that effective July 1st, the station with locations in Ketchikan, Sitka, and Juneau have or are dropping the Rush Limbaugh program from their schedule. Inquiry as to the reason was given the fiscal disappointment of revenue. When asked if there was a political venue related to the action, I was assured that there was and is no such pressure. When the question of what is anticipated to replace the Rush programming that will result in equal or additional revenue during the three hour period, there was no response other than Drop by the station sometime by the general manager. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 29, 2016

letter RE: Public restrooms on docks closed too early By Douglas J. Thompson - Regarding the letter from Mr. Phil Borngraeber published recently in Sitnews: We have ten harbor employees and probably more with their 'summer help'. They are costing Ketchikan's taxpayer between ninety and one hundred forty thousand dollars per year each. We pay for a multitude of vehicles for them and all expenses. The department is supposedly run by Corporan under Amylon. Somewhere along the way as I have pointed out before they have decided they no longer need to work to collect their salary. Case in point is Mr. Borngraeber letter showing they once again "contract out" the most simple menial tasks that they themselves should be doing. It is ridiculous that cleaning Harbor Department bathrooms is approved for contracting out. With the overstaffing it should easily be handled and could even be done with 1/3 of the employees currently employed to no discernible benefit in that bloated department. - More...
Monday AM - June 27, 2016

letter Gov Walker's 5th Special Session By Marvin Seibert - We are now in the grips of Governor Walker's calling for a 5th special session. Special sessions were not instituted till the governor of a state gets his way. Taxes being considered will have a devastating effect on the people who can afford it the least. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 22, 2016

letter Public restrooms on docks closed too early By Phil L. Borngraeber - Just in the last two weeks I have been among the many local folks riding, walking, taking the kids or dogs out for relaxation and exercise. But wait, no matter how great the weather is, don't plan on using the restrooms at dock 4 or 2 after the ships have left. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 22, 2016

letter Please abide by leash laws By Mishele Rhein - In light of summer and the added outdoor activities at the local beaches, I would like to encourage the locals and our numerous summer guests to abide by the leash laws. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy watching my dogs run, play and dig with abandon on the sandy beaches as well, but doing so on a leash. Being a dog owner, I understand the need to get out and exercise man’s best friend, but to be honest, I am growing weary of being assaulted by “friendly” dogs when the owner is truly no where to be seen. I am not sure what’s worse, missing dog owners or oblivious dog owners. The latter being the friendly passers by greeting you a wonderful afternoon while their dog is running circles around you and your now distracted leashed dog. Everyone tends to think their dog is “amiable enough” and “its no problem.” Even though my exuberant animals feel the need to greet everyone, everyone does not feel the need to greet them. Just tonight I went for a walk and was greeted (whether I wanted to be or not) by no less than three dogs before I even got to the beach. One of which had a leash trailing but no person holding the other end and the fourth dog came to investigate upon exit and felt the need to walk us part way home. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 22, 2016

letter The 1967 Fairbanks' Flood By John Calhoun - I was living in the Northward building at the time of the 1967 Fairbanks' flood. We were able to get power from a building across the street by a long cord hooked up to an electrical panel to provide emergency lighting in the halls and stairwells. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 22, 2016

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KPU - Salmon Landing webcam - Ketchikan, Alaska KPU Webcams - Ketchikan, Alaska Sample Ballots Official Election Pamphlet PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center - Now Hiring Click here to email.