As your legislator for the past four years, I have had the honor to serve constituents in Funny River, Sterling, Nikiski, Kasilof, Clam Gulch and Ninilchik.
Everyone who calls my office, writes or contacts me is very important. My staff and I make every effort to help everyone.
Over the past four years, I have learned the way to get things done for Alaskans is to think outside the box. Nearly 75 percent of our young people are forced to move Outside to find employment. It is time for the Alaska Legislature to nurture a business-friendly environment to keep our young people in Alaska and avoid the "brain drain."
I have had suggestions from development of an industrial area in Nikiski to a biomedical facility, which would serve other parts of the world with Alaska as a hub for information cargo and technology. We are now involved in developing markets for salmon never before considered.
Nothing is impossible when you think outside the box.
As in years past, the price of a barrel of oil has pulled our bacon out of the fire regarding the budget.
In FY 2004, Alaska had a fiscal surplus of some $51 million, allowing the Legislature time to "think outside the box" regarding a long-term fiscal plan for Alaska. We need to utilize the best minds available to make sound decisions for Alaska's fiscal future. "Thinking outside the box" may be the answer, but no matter what, I am committed to actively participating in a long-term fiscal plan. Taking part of the permanent fund will not be a part of my plan. There are still many places in the budget, left over from the previous administration, which can be cut.
We need to scrutinize state employees who have the authority to expend funds unchecked by supervisors. Within the last few days upwards of $200,000 was improperly channeled to a company owned by a state employee in the Office of Pubic Advocacy. Thankfully, this is an exception and not the rule. Most state employees are thoughtful and diligent in their work.
A system to reward employees who find new and innovative ways to do their job more efficiently should be something we consider to make government more efficient. "Thinking outside the box" with positive encouragement may save us millions of dollars simply by using state employees to be more efficient with incentives.
Next year, I plan on closely scrutinizing Child Protective Services. Although I do see some progress in operations, changes are not occurring fast enough or thoroughly enough to help kids in danger.
We also have an obligation to our senior citizens to assist with prescription drug costs and assisted living facilities.
I am open to your positive thoughts, ideas and concerns, as well. Fixing government doesn't have to be a negative experience but it will take as many people to find ways to accomplish it. We can do it with positive ideas for resource development, well paying jobs for our workforce, new paths for educating our children and searching for good ways to make government more efficient. With your help we can accomplish these goals for all Alaskans, young and old, Sourdoughs and those new to our state.
We have so much potential to discover new ways to accomplish goals by "thinking outside the box." Let's work together to get it done.
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