"We don't really have a budget deficit. We have a spending problem," Republican Sen. Jerry Ward told the Kenai Chamber of Commerce.
Ward, who represents parts of Kenai, Nikiski and south Anchorage in his current legislative seat, visited the chamber's weekly meeting Wednesday to offer a brief review of his legislative actions this year.
His top priorities this year have been a constitutional cap on government spending and an educational endowment bill that would develop 5 million acres of state land to fund education, Ward said. Both bills failed.
The state government is obligated to finance public safety, transportation and education, he said.
"Everything else has to fight for what is leftover, if anything is leftover."
Ward said the public should decide what other services need to be funded and must decide to pay for those services by taxing themselves or citizen corporations.
"The problems the state of Alaska have are not going away," Ward said. "It doesn't matter who's in office. We need to work on long-term answers."
He stressed the need for a diversified economy that does not depend solely on the oil industry.
After Ward's speech, Kenai Peninsula College financial aid specialist Carrie Burford, the scheduled speaker for the meeting, offered a brief presentation on the college's programs and philosophies.
Her message was that the college and area businesses must be willing to take risks to succeed. She encouraged chamber members to get into the risk-taking state of mind by participating in a game and trivia challenge and offered prizes to the audience.
She also noted many of the college's partnership programs, including the Alaska Process Technology Career Center, short-term training for welders, equipment training for area petroleum workers, new nursing programs and a trade-teaching program with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.
Finally, she announced that the newly hired college director, Gary Turner, will begin duties with the college July 1.
In other chamber news:
The Kenai Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors approved a resolution in support of a proposed adolescent treatment center to be built on the central peninsula.
Phillips Alaska presented a $5,000 check to KDLL concert sponsorship.
Jack Brown of the Economic Development District is scheduled to speak on the peninsula's 2006 Arctic Winter Games bid at next week's chamber luncheon, Wednesday at noon at Paradisos.
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