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Boosting PFDs would boost economy

Posted: June 3, 2011 - 7:52am

Alaska has been very successful in completion of relatively small government projects, such as roads and bridges. And Alaska has been admirably successful with large projects impelled by necessity — the Alaska Highway and reconstruction after the 1964 earthquake.

But Alaska has a dismal record with its energy projects given birth through the political process. Find the common denominator among the following: 1) the Delta Barley Project (patiently waiting to off-load its first bushel of grain); 2) the Anchorage Municipal Dock (currently under construction); 3) the fish processing plant (presently a church in Anchorage); 4) the ferry to nowhere (MV Susitna); 5) the Healy Power Generation Plant; 6) McKenzie Dairy project; 7) the new prison (should we tear it down or operate it at a loss?).

These “seven deadly sins” (many venials go unlisted) often resulted from the legislative culture exemplified in the “VECO trials” ... legislators responding to special interests who promise to pad pocketbooks or promote re-election of compliant legislators.

What is one to do, besides look suspiciously at snake-oil salesmen who approach the Legislature promoting the Bridge to Nowhere, a bullet gas line, a Susitna dam?

The permanent fund was a wonderful idea — individuals spending income from common resource extraction (oil and gas tax and royalties) to fulfill their own values.

Consideration should be given to an increase in the dedication of state income to the Alaska Permanent Fund.

The resulting increase in permanent fund checks means some recipients will contribute to the higher education of their children — yet others will buy drugs. That is a chance we’ll have to take.

Some Alaska residents will contribute increased permanent fund checks in the effort to find a cure for cancer — yet others will contribute to the re-election of legislative incumbents. But again, that’s a chance we will simply have to take.

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