Laying Down The Case For Justice
by Michael Chambers
The root cause:
This graph has been widely recognized as one of the most important data graphs in identifying the root cause of our current "crisis" budget. From 2006 until 2016 there was a 109% increase in state budget expenditures until today Alaska now has a state budget which is 2.5 times higher that the average budgets in the other states per capita.
Well before the oil reductions in 2014 there were substantial conversations that our state budget was unsustainable and certainly legislators knew that the bulk of our revenues come from one source which historically has fluctuated.
Ray Charles could have seen this coming...
There is no argument that a dramatic decrease in the price of oil brought emphasis to a government financially designed beyond the ability to maintain it's size and scope. Instead of using the Constitutional Budget Reserve ( $17 B ) as a shock absorber, legislators and the governor chose to do very little in trimming the excess costs of government. They used the CBR, not as it was intended as a financial "shock absorber," but as a systemic funding flaw for deficit spending. The result was a dramatic reduction to a current balance of $2 billion.
Additionally, Alaska's governor has massive authority over the budgetary process. Few state constitutions grant as much monetary authority to the governor as does Alaska. The governor has complete latitude on red~lining any item in any appropriations bill. By December 15th of each year the governor sets the tenor and fiscal philosophy through submission of the "Governor's Budget."
Candidate Walker campaigned as a fiscal conservative and Governor Walker, from day one, governed to maintain and expand an unsustainable budget, choosing to encourage the depletion of savings accounts and promoting a multitude of tax streams to promote government as a do all, be all for everyone. His most egregious act was the unilateral expansion of Medicaid which is currently exacerbating the fiscal crisis and has the immediate potential to drive our budget into severe deficit spending. There is wanton waste throughout the entire budget and this was completely ignored.
To add insult to injury, the governor and many in the State Legislature promoted outright lies of budget restraint in order to maintain and grow government. The most obvious lies have been a 44% reduction in state spending and 2,500 state employees being laid off. The governor and any legislators who promotes these lies need a grand jury to remedy justice this coming November!
In 2017 United for Liberty attempted to assist both the governor and the Alaska legislature in defining areas of the budget which could be reduced without disrupting basic services.
Our dedicated team assembled, published and carried a 96 page booklet to Juneau for all legislators. Of the 60 legislators, there were a small handful of legislators who were responsive and supportive of our work. The vast majority either realized that the legislature was incapable or unwilling to cut the size and scope of government.
In 2018 Mission Critical Alaska published this graph based on real numbers obtained from Office of Management and Budget. This gives all Alaskans the real truth about any "reductions."
In any event, very little was done, and in fact, the operating budget has been increasing even during a time the State of Alaska is clearly in a recession. This is a massive disconnect, both with the current legislature and the governor.
An assault on the PFD:
In 2017 Commissioner of Revenue Randy Hoffbeck was asked why the governor capped the PFD. He stated that it was the largest amount of money with the easiest access. ( read that again )
Senate President Pete Kelly recently stated that the PFD was a "government check."
Representative Dan Saddler stated in committee recently that the Permanent Fund is the largest asset the government owns.
Senator Coghill recently wrote that he believes in an "endowment" for government enshrined in the constitution but a "statutory entitlement" for the citizens which can be changed at the will of the governor or legislature at any whim. He goes on to state...
"A statutory entitlement created by the legislature to share our resource wealth evenly for every qualified Alaskan."
Note he uses "our" as in government benevolence in sharing "their" resource.
So, he wants Constitutional protection for the excess of government but he wants the legislature to reserve the rights to plunder the citizens. Perhaps someone should have a conversation with the senator regarding the definition of "evenly."
So, make no bones, what this comes down to is a clear case of class warfare.
On the one hand, you have crony capitalists who are deploying methods to
take from the less fortunate to protect their own bounty from an income tax.
They are currently promoting these concepts:
1. No Constitutional protection of a PFD
2. A Percentage Of Market Value ( POMV ) calculated at ( 25/75 ) ( 30/70 )
Guess which percentage will be used to calculate the citizens share? wink wink...
This is a recent meme I created which indicates "their share."
You may have seen this meme recently as it was viewed 136,115 times
and shared 2,401 times. Obviously, Alaskans are angry.
So what now?
Alaskans need to understand one principle we were never taught in school.
You get the government you deserve.
It is not a coincidence that our citizens are not educated to be civically involved.
Crony Capitalists and other special interest groups are planning on depositing your children's PFD money in their accounts and they are banking on your apathy and non~involvement.
Here is the good news.
WE OUTNUMBER THEM!
So what do you do?
First, Contact all legislators and demand:
1. A Constitutional Amendment for the PFD
2. A 50/50 split ( this is the definition of "evenly" )
It does not matter if it is the original calculation of the PFD which is
purposely hung up in Senator Coghill's closet ( SJR1 ) or any form of a POMV,
it is more essential that "We the People of Alaska" have the opportunity
to vote on a constitutional amendment to protect the PFD at 50/50.
I leave you with this:
Alaska State Constitution
"All political power is inherent in the people. All government originates with the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good for the people as a whole."
There is nothing government can promote more than enfranchising the PFD which meets the spirit of these words in our State Constitution.
and, two more requests...
1. Please share this narrative on your timeline
2. Get informed and vote this August and November.
"We the People of Alaska"