Alaskans should face facts about state's financial condition

Posted: Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Gov. Murkowski has everyone's attention. His budget address to the legislature last Wednesday has citizens talking. Some claim he broke campaign promises. Others debate the question: When does a user fee turn into a tax? The debate will continue and the fact of the matter is that the Legislature is going to have to buy into a some of the concepts brought forth by the governor.

Alaskans have had an easy ride for a long time, and we're going to have to start paying for more services. Murkowski has to cut the fat out of state spending. Everyone's in favor of that until the cut affects the pet program they support.

We do support some form of payroll deduction to support education. We still remember the first $10 that was taken out of our first Alaska-earned paycheck in 1972. It just about sent this writer ballistic. Now, having had kids go through the public education system, it's a viable way to collect funds from out-of-state workers who contribute nothing to the state when they send their paychecks home.

Did anyone really think the governor was going to bring resource development from zero to sixty in his first months in office? Resource development has been at a virtual standstill for the past eight years, and it's going to take a while to literally prime the rusty pump.

We're not happy with everything the governor proposed, but we like the fact that guidelines are being proposed and debated that will bring down the cost of state government.

Most importantly, we like the public involvement that is beginning to take place. Citizens were pretty quiet and apathetic about government in the heady '80s when the pipeline was full and the permanent fund checks were growing by hundreds of dollars per person, per year.

Let the debate continue. Speak to your legislators. Give them your ideas. In the end, expect to lose a pet program or two and get out your wallets and pay for some of what you've gotten for free for so long.

-- The Petersburg Pilot

March 14

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