Current weather

  • Overcast
  • 55°
    Overcast
  • Comment

Begich discusses economic future

Posted: April 15, 2014 - 10:10pm
Photo by Dan Balmer/Peninsula Clarion Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Begich speaks at a joint Soldotna and Kenai Chamber Luncheon Tuesday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. Begich visited the Kenai Peninsula Tuesday to give a congressional update and answered questions about tax reform, oil production in the Arctic and health care.
Photo by Dan Balmer/Peninsula Clarion Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Begich speaks at a joint Soldotna and Kenai Chamber Luncheon Tuesday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. Begich visited the Kenai Peninsula Tuesday to give a congressional update and answered questions about tax reform, oil production in the Arctic and health care.

Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Begich said he remembers driving through the Kenai Peninsula five years ago, shortly after his election to the U.S. Senate, and noticing the economy here was not in the best of shape.

In a return to the area, he shared some insight into his congressional activities then fielded questions on his tax reform proposal, health care and the future of Alaska’s economy at a joint Soldotna and Kenai Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Begich said it has been his priority to create more jobs for the benefit of Alaska’s long-term development. He called Monday’s announcement of ConocoPhillips’ permit approval to export liquefied natural gas from its Nikiski plant incredible news considering the effort it took him to push the LNG export permit to the top of the list.

“It means jobs in the community,” he said. “We need to keep pressure on agencies because they get into their systems and get lost.”

Begich said the condition of the state finances are not as healthy as they used to be and the state has a challenge ahead to increase oil production to move forward.

He said his appointment to the appropriations committee is a “powerful opportunity” for Alaska because with Sen. Lisa Murkowski also on the committee, the two can team up on issues that could benefit the state.

Military expenditures for construction in the state rose from $18 million when he first joined the appropriations committee to over $200 million last year. These investments are important to Alaska economy and national defense, he said.

Begich said all the committees he sits on, from veteran’s affairs to commerce, which includes transportation, oceans and fisheries, are all advantageous to Alaska. He has adopted issues of the Arctic by bringing them up in the ocean subcommittee.

“One thing I have learned in the senate as a chair of a committee, if I start talking about an issue nobody else is, you can take over the issue,” he said. “Sure enough now we are doing Arctic stuff which is very important for Alaska because the opportunity is significant.”

Begich was asked what could be done to bring Alaska back to the top of oil production. With North Dakota leading the nation in production, he said things would change with development in the Arctic. He pointed to progress being made in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and an estimated 26 billion barrels of oil on the outer continental chelf. When oil is produced, a 600-mile long pipeline would need to be built to move the resource and would create jobs all over the state, he said.

While speaking on tax day, Begich said he dreaded this time of year. He said filing taxes could be a complicated process and has not been reformed since 1986. The idea for his Income Tax Reform Act of 2011 was to simplify the form down to one-page, reducing six tax rates to three.

When asked about the fair tax, he said he couldn’t support that kind of tax rate on an individual whose principle product is food.

Begich said the tax reform is deficit neutral and has growth potential.

“When I was mayor, 40 percent of my growth in tax revenue was from new business activity,” he said. “Not taking existing people and making them pay more.”

Begich responded to a question on his future outlook on health care and said the Affordable Care Act will continue to be worked on over time. He said he had several fixes with tax incentives that will work for small business owners.

“Small businesses who do not provide health care today but want to because it’s a great detention tool,” he said. “We lose employees to larger companies who offer health care.”

Begich said tourism on the Kenai Peninsula is a big part of the economic equation. In Washington, D.C., people have a difficult time realizing the impact and he described the whole logistics chain involved to demonstrate the trickle-down effect it has on the community.

The fastest growing middle class markets are people from India, China and Brazil, he said, and those countries are being targeted to promote tourism in the U.S.

“We love foreign travelers because they spend more money and stay longer and that’s good business for us,” he said. “Those folks like to come to unique places and there is not place better than Alaska.”

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com.

  • Comment

Comments (8) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
KenaiKardinal88
383
Points
KenaiKardinal88 04/16/14 - 01:34 pm
2
4
Liberal Begich Should Be Fired

Obamacare contains dozens of taxes which kick in this year. Begich was a key vote for what has turned out to be the most inefficient government program in history.

Our health care costs are up significantly and quality is dropping.

Begich does not represent hard-working Alaskans at all.

Suss
3054
Points
Suss 04/16/14 - 06:56 pm
4
2
KK88 wrong info

It seems that our new health care options are winning, thank you Senator Begich. You are doing Alaska proud.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/15/us-usa-healthcare-poll-idUSBRE...

Raoulduke
2593
Points
Raoulduke 04/16/14 - 07:03 pm
2
1
Programs

K.K. 88 - Alaska has been a Republican run state for decades.The people that have been in charge of every aspect of government in this state.Have been Republicans.The tax breaks in the 10's of billions of dollars given to the wealthiest Corporations.Were given by the Republican rule in Juneau.They asked for,and received no guarantee of anything in return.A good business practice,and great representation for the good of the Alaskan.They have been self serving,pocket lining panderers.They have been giving away the natural resources of this state,and yet nobody has obviously noticed,or refuse to admit this fact.The fact that the Alaskan keeps re electing these folks proves this point.The Obamacare is "The Affordable Care Act". 7 million plus people can testify to this.Clean up the corruption at home in Juneau before going national with your complaints.Remember this one fact .Republicans have been in charge of this state for decades,and any complaints you have.Take it up with the Republican's.They the Republicans also signed a pledge to a private individual to shut down this country.An act I consider treasonous,fraudulent,and an act of perjury.

KenaiKardinal88
383
Points
KenaiKardinal88 04/17/14 - 02:29 pm
1
3
Begich's Vote Hurts Widows

Over two dozen widows in Alabama were dropped from their health care plans due to Obamacare, "More than two dozen widows who were married to retired Madison county employees, lost their health insurance coverage earlier this year. And now one commissioner says it´s time to give it back to them. The change was sparked by the new federal health care law a.k.a. Obamacare.

Obamacare is Begich's chief accomplishment while in Congress.

Raoulduke
2593
Points
Raoulduke 04/17/14 - 05:16 pm
3
2
Hurting

KK 88-Your info seems so erroneous.Just WHERE do you get such info.There is still such a thing as Medicare.Which these widows would have been covered along with Social Security.If they were married to Retired employees,and their husbands kept up their premiums,or it could have been a mistake on the counties part.I believe.You are trying to practice that old Karl Rove tactic.Another of Begichs accomplishment has been the $182,000,000 increase in military construction in Alaska.You must give credit.Where credit is due.Even if you have to swallow your pride,and give it to a Democrat.

Suss
3054
Points
Suss 04/17/14 - 07:37 pm
3
0
Madison County, AL

Yes this county went from being self-insured to a large pool group plan that saved them millions on top of millions of health care costs. Their decision to save costs, costs the widows their coverage. Not an Obama death panel plan as some fringe believers would like to believe. They alone excluded the widows with that contractual move. That county can and will cure this with another vote to provide coverage for the widows, when they do would KK88 proclaim "Obama and Begich rush to Save The Widows of Madison County?". Spin your story, but damn, those pesky facts are so limiting.

cheapersmokes
767
Points
cheapersmokes 04/24/14 - 03:51 am
0
1
Bergich!

This shows just what is totally wrong with our elected representatives! When he brags about getting military spending increased 187 million dollars then you should see it also. You know that for each of those votes he had to agree to vote for some project of theirs for an equal or larger amount also. Time to change them all.

Raoulduke
2593
Points
Raoulduke 04/24/14 - 04:07 pm
0
0
monies

The 182 million dollars will put people to work.The Republican's 10's of billions of dollar tax break giveaway to some of the richest corporation's in the world without any guarantee of anything in return is O.K. with you. I believe.These giveaway monies come from ALASKAN'S.So who is spending the money. The fiscally conservative? Somebody had to make up for this shortfall .I am glad someone was thinking of the Alaskan. Begich is bringing monies to the state with a much greater chance to place people on the employment role.Go figure.

Back to Top

Spotted

Please Note: You may have disabled JavaScript and/or CSS. Although this news content will be accessible, certain functionality is unavailable.

Skip to News

« back

next »

  • title http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321268/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321253/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321248/
  • title http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321243/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321208/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/320593/
  • title http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321173/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321163/
My Gallery

CONTACT US

  • 150 Trading Bay Rd, Kenai, AK 99611
  • Switchboard: 907-283-7551
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-283-3584
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Business Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-335-1257
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING

MORRIS ALASKA NEWS