We must not continue the failed policies of the past. With a shrinking economy and a growing government sector, we must have strong leaders willing to honestly address this reality and work together for long-term solutions. The days of giving partisan politics and special interest groups priority over public policy must end.
Honest and responsible spending cuts are necessary to balance our budget. We must discontinue deceptive "Enron style" accounting practices and actually make needed cuts! We must focus our limited resources on constitutional mandates by responsibly funding education, transportation, public health and safety.
Economic development is the key to Alaska's future. This can only be achieved by providing a healthy environment for business to thrive in. A prudent businessperson will think twice about relocating and investing in an area with unstable taxes, excessive government cost, second-rate schools, high crime rates and poor infrastructure development. We must do everything possible to ensure our success.
The current overspending situation, coupled with poor prioritization by the Legislature, have many potential investors wondering if Alaska is a safe place to do business. We must produce an honest and fiscally sound plan, which curbs our budget deficit and deals with these other problems. This will reassure potential investors, restoring confidence for investment within Alaska.
In the last two years, Rep. Mike Chenault supported the following legislation, which I would have voted against:
House Bill 149 and House Bill 498 are the Cornell prison bills. If private enterprise chooses to be in the prison business they should use their own money for start-up cost, not ours. This is a textbook example of special interest legislation, which has cost us billions over the years. As chairman of the Peninsula Citizens Against Private Prisons, we brought this issue to a vote of the people, where it was defeated by a three-to-one margin.
Senate Bill 29 and Senate Bill 2006 are capital projects bills with combined appropriations of almost $3 billion. We must cut unnecessary spending to balance our budget, if protecting the permanent fund is a serious consideration. From documented action, protecting the permanent fund dividend has not been a legislative priority. Good examples of excess spending and legislative deception are found in House Bill 403 (the operating budget) which is $545,362,400 higher than last year and contains 649 new full-time government job positions. These actions will force new taxes and/or loss of permanent fund dividends if allowed to continue.
House Bills 2002 and 2003 put bond issues on the November ballot, forcing us into debt. These projects could and should have been paid for in cash before spending money on any $400,000 community center study! House Bill 193 gave us the closed primary which puts party interest before public good. For more budget facts and voting records visit the Alaska Voters Organization Web site at www.akvoters.org.
We must chart a bold new direction that will take us into the 21st century and beyond. Our future depends on you electing honest, hardworking people with a clear vision to the 23rd Legislature. Together we can make a difference!
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