Review of state programs needed before revenue sources decided
Well, after reading your March 24 editorial blasting the Republicans, I thought one of two things had happened -- either I had mistakingly picked up the Anchorage Daily Worker or you had let that august group of socialists pen Sunday's editorial.
You mentioned taxes specifically but fail to mention dividend revenues, nor do you mention there are large portions of this state that are unincorporated and pay nothing for education, roads, etc. that incorporated areas help to pay for through property taxes. Where in your editorial do you criticize Gov. Tony Knowles for not reducing or eliminating anything, let alone his proposed budget increases? Talk about partisan politics.
Where do you call for the extensive state bureaucracy to look at a Jimmy Carter era proposal for zero-based budgeting? It seems you have forgotten that government doesn't create wealth -- it spends what is created by work and investment.
Perhaps for those of you who have forgotten, let me refresh your memory with a quote from the Declaration of Independence: "He (referring to the king of England) has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance."
After reading the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, I could find no mention of state authority to redistribute wealth (call it socialism). Tax the rich and let us give that money through programs to people (who too frequently have no interest in helping themselves) is a typical Democratic party chant.
That, my friends, is a big part of the reason we are where we are financially. Too many people are being pulled in a wagon by increasingly fewer people. I wonder how many of the "huge majority" calling for an income tax actually would be paying anything.
I have no problem with a non-food sales tax (everyone should have to help), booze tax, cruise ship tax, increased user fees, use of a portion of the dividend and, if absolutely necessary, an income tax.
Until the Knowles-Ulmer administration does a bottom up review of all programs for effectiveness, they shouldn't be throwing stones at the Legislature, nor should you.
Legislature should explore giving state parks to local governments
Editor's Note: The following letter was written to Sen. Jerry Ward and Rep. Mike Chenault and submitted for publication.
The March 24 edition of the Peninsula Clarion carried a surprising story featuring state Parks supervisors throwing a tantrum and exhibiting spoiled-child syndrome.
One, Chris Degernes, Kenai area superintendent for Alaska State Parks, is quoted as stating that if the Division of Parks does not get the money it demand it will take the picnic tables, restrooms, fire pits and other things out of the parks on the Kenai Peninsula and let the garbage pile up and show us who is the boss!
I had a child who acted like that many years ago. When the child demanded a raise in the allowance and I said no, the child threatened to take his/her toys and clothes and move to grandmother's home. I explained that I had purchased the toys, and I had purchased the clothes, and I paid the allowance, and I paid the tickets to grandmother's house, and if the child was leaving he/she would need to leave all of that stuff in my home, that I paid for, and walk to grandmother's home in the nude. The child thought about it and later asked if he/she made their bed and picked up their room, could they stay at my house.
I think I understand our government is designed upon the premises of government of the people, by the people and for the people. It does not say government bureaucrats are entitled to anything, and it certainly does not say they "own" the things that are purchased by their departments with the money appropriated by the Legislature from time to time to operate those programs.
I have not talked with our borough mayor, nor have I talked with our assembly representatives; however, I have talked with other folks who pay their taxes, go to the voting polls and try to be good citizens. The feeling is too many state agencies are doing what Ms. Degernes threatened to do: lock up government property and programs to retaliate against legislators, just as DOT did for highway maintenance in Nikiski to "show" Sen. Ward several years ago.
The feeling is too many state bureaucrats think they control the Legislature, not the other way around. In addition, many people are not real happy with the manner in which state Parks handles the parks on the peninsula anyway, such as removing some tables and fire pits in winter so skiers and the like cannot use the parks.
I have a thought. What would happen if you first determined the percentage of the total budget that is applicable to each park within the various boroughs, including wages and fringe benefits, then cut the Parks budget as you deem fit? Then, transfer the various parks and their associated facilities, without the employees, to the various boroughs, and allocate that percentage of the budget appropriate to each park to the local borough. Future appropriations of state funds to assist in the operation of the local parks would be on the same percentage of the whole budget for "state parks," with a method to modify where appropriate; but, again, with the money going to the boroughs to manage parks within their local boundaries.
The boroughs could then hire their own Parks people and look to seniors, volunteers and the like to assist in running them where possible. Fees would be set by the local government, and we would have local control.
With a few words, a change would be made regarding fines for destruction of park property to provide that the fines go to the local municipality and that local parks would have first crack at the "community service" hours dealt out by the local criminal courts to help with painting and picking up garbage and the like.
Local Lion's, Rotary and other service organizations and military and fraternal clubs, seniors organizations and the like could "adopt" parks to help with the maintenance and management. Where parks are primarily for putting in guide boats or taking them out, the guides could impose a head tax to help pump the toilets and the like.
There are lots of possibilities to make our parks more responsive to local needs, make them operate more efficiently and eliminate another level of state bureaucracy.
Those parks which serve the traveling public such as wayside toilets/rest areas are tied to the highway system and should stay with the state Parks, just as parks which are located outside of established boroughs and cities. All the rest should go to the local municipality for local operation and control unless the local municipality opted out of the transfer program.
There probably isn't time in this legislative session to do all of that this year, but I think it may have merit for next year. In the interim, please remind Ms. Degernes that the park benches and fire pits are not "her toys," and she cannot take them to grandmother's if she does not get the raise in her allowance she is demanding.
A consistent voter
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