He's been there before and is ready to go back to help create a long-range fiscal plan for Alaska, said former Alaska House member Hal Smalley of Kenai.
Smalley represented House District 9 from 1998 to 2000 before losing to Rep. Mike Chenault. Now, encouraged, he said, by family, friends and Democratic
Party officials, he's running as a Democrat in the Aug. 27 primary for the new House District 33.
He is unopposed in the primary and will appear on the November general election ballot.
He's not happy with the new primary format, which limits the races in which voters can select candidates. He said he's hearing the same dissatisfaction from constituents.
"As we go door to door, it is the biggest frustration I hear," he said.
Interpreting the meaning of some results of the primary will be difficult, he said.
"You used to be able to look at the primary numbers and draw some conclusions" about the relative strength of candidates, he said. "Now, you will be able to tell very little, I think."
Smalley said he is likely to face Republican candidate Mel Krogseng in the general election. Each has experience in state government, he as an elected official, she as a legislative aide and bureaucrat. Smalley said he thinks the two will disagree on the need for a long-range fiscal plan and how soon one should be implemented.
"I don't believe in spending all the money in the bank account before instituting something," he said. "The economy of the state can't."
He said he worries that failure to address the fiscal problems could drive the state into recession.
Smalley also said that while the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend program should be protected, the Alaska Constitution clearly doesn't put the fund's earnings off limits to use for funding government.
"The Constitution is clear on the purpose of the fund," he said. "Retained earnings are to be placed in the general fund unless otherwise specified by law. The state has never put them into the general fund. They've rolled billions into the corpus."
That wasn't bad stewardship, Smalley said, but if the state needs the revenues, they can be used. However, a fair and workable fiscal plan should be in place first, he said.
Smalley said lawmakers must continue looking at budget reductions and efficiencies, but revenues have to be increased, too.
That includes discussing income taxes and sales taxes. Given a choice, he prefers an income tax, he said.
"My biggest agenda is the health of the state and every local community," he said.
He said he would promote the health of the Kenai River through partnerships between the borough, the state and the cities of Kenai and Soldotna. Some areas of the central peninsula need water and sewer projects to keep the river clean.
As a 27-year veteran of Alaska classrooms, most of it spent as a teacher at Kenai Central High School, Smalley said he would focus heavily on school funding and on ensuring a quality education with high academic standards.
Smalley supports a natural gas pipeline.
He also said he does not support moving the Legislature.
"It's not where it is, it's who you send to it," he said.
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