Beautiful birds are dying on remote Alaska islands in the Bering Sea. Polar Bears are being spotted away from their usual frozen habitat, because the ice is melting. Now, in just the last few months, after another unseasonably warm winter in the largest state, four whales have shown up dead on beaches across south-central Alaska. These events have made the major news headlines across the state and the country. But, have they drawn the interest of the Alaska legislature? Not likely. They continue to fight about how to keep the state operating. But, they haven’t decided how to raise enough money to operate this huge state, without using earnings of the permanent fund? Just another broken record.
The majority in the Senate and in the House will not create an income tax, or anything else to increase funding to the state’s coffers. But, some do support plenty of cuts. Some lawmakers want to reduce government jobs. They want to reduce funding to government programs and agencies. Plus, they want to eliminate the state programs that traditionally lose money, such as the marine highway system. One cut that the new governor wants is a huge reduction in funding for education that had been approved in a prior legislative session. The governor wants that money back to cover the cost of a higher PFD that he had promised in his campaign. But, the legislature disagrees, and is willing to sue him in court to make certain that money stays in place for the schools.
So, once again, its overtime for the State Legislature and its staff in Anchorage and Juneau as, once again, the state is going to waste more money on a special session to get all these lawmakers to agree on a budget, before the fiscal year ends. So, as the state waits for this “bureaucratic snail” to complete its annual long and lengthy journey, the state will continue to lose out on more and more opportunities to move away from its 20th century economics formula of “making more money through fossil fuels”.
The year is 2019, more and more cars are running on alternatives to gasoline. The United States is back on top as the leader in oil and natural gas production; and, that is helpful. Unfortunately, it comes at a time when Prudhoe Bay oil reserves are continuing to shrink. New development for Alaska oil will likely come from federal land, not state land. That means less money for the state. And, as for the Big LNG Dream from the North Slope, it’s progressing SLOWER THAN the “bureaucratic snail”.
So, once again, just like before, the question has to be asked……When are the true leaders of this state going to wake up from the 20th century. Get out of their Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, and Mercury’s. Stop going out to their mailbox, outside, when their computer says they have mail to read. And, start to understand that the young adults in this state were actually born after the year 2000.
Alaska needs to catch up with the other states in business development, education, and government services. This state is becoming a poor state because of its reliance on the 20th century. If it doesn’t start thinking “outside of the box”, other states will take Alaska’s place in line in areas like climate study, alternative energy, preserving a fresh drinking water supply, reducing UV ray exposure, preparing for robotics, preparing for AI, 21st Century Healthcare, and, on and on. That is something to think about the next time you sit down in your Lazy-Boy for an evening of cable television, while you drink bottled water from the refrigerator, since the sink water hasn’t tasted right since the earthquake last fall. And, you probably will never find out what is wrong with that water because the state got rid of most of its geologists in a previous downsizing. All of the private geologists are swamped with work.