Olson: Spur line is a priority

Candidate Views, House District 33

Posted: Friday, November 03, 2006

After graduating from college on the GI Bill, my wife, Barbara, and I moved to Alaska in 1977. Seeing that the Peninsula would be a great place to live and raise a family, we moved here in 1982. We raised two daughters, Madelyn and Valerie, and we still love the Peninsula as much as ever. I have worked as a commercial insurance broker, a custom seafood processor, in the tourism industry, as legislative staff, and the past two years in the Alaska House of Representatives for Kenai, Soldotna, Kasilof and K-Beach. Having worked many years in the private sector, I know what it means to meet payroll, pay for health insurance and for workers compensation coverage.

My vision and driving force is that the next generations, our children and grandchildren, have the same opportunities that we have had — the opportunity to have a decent education, good jobs, a good quality of life, and most importantly, remain in Alaska.

Two years ago, I ran on the following platform: Alaska needs resource development for jobs and revenue for services. It is crucial to bring North Slope gas to market in the Lower 48 and in the Cook Inlet basin as soon as possible. I have continued to work on this issue both in Juneau and in Washington, D.C.

In the long-term, a stable supply of North Slope gas will keep the Agrium and the ConocoPhillips plants in operation. North Slope gas will power the electrical generation turbines at Beluga and provide gas for Southcentral and the Interior. Alternate sources of power will come from coal gasification and from the Healy Clean Coal facility freeing additional North Slope natural gas for sale outside of Alaska.

It is critical that we get new supplies of natural gas from the Cook Inlet basin on line as soon as possible to satisfy local demands. We cannot afford to have Agrium, the LNG and GTL plants, and residential suppliers rationing gas. I have spent the past two years working on streamlining the regulatory process for the permitting of local gas lines and defining the terms of “platform abandonment” so we can get new companies and new technology producing on our older platforms.

My vision for the gas line contract is a “Y” line to Canada and Southcentral with several takeoff points in the Interior. It will include a reasonable start date, local hire of Alaskans to the full extent of the law, fiscal certainty that is designed to protect Alaska and the producers, and fleshing out the question of State ownership of a portion of the line.

In August we passed a hybrid petroleum tax bill. The new tax bill will significantly increase revenue to the State while providing incentives for future development. It is considered one of the most important pieces of legislation since Statehood and a major step towards completion of a contract for the gas line.

My priorities continue to be adequate funding for education, public safety, roads and jobs. While serving you in Juneau, I have delivered on these priorities. Your delegation, working as a team, has provided the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District with the funds needed to meet their budgets. For the first time, we were able to bring back a portion of the Area Cost Differential — money for the higher cost of servicing remote schools within our District. We made sure that a portion of the increase went directly into the classrooms.

We were blessed with a surplus this year and did not spend it all. We took over $600 million off the table early in the budget process to save for the future. The new tax legislation was effective April 1, so we will likely have a surplus for the next several years. We will save a portion and use some to fund part of the $8.5 billion deficit in our PERS/TERS program over the next twenty-five years — it needs to be addressed now, rather than leaving it for the next generation. I do not believe that tapping the Permanent Fund for PERS/TERS is either prudent or necessary.

I am uniquely qualified to continue as your representative in Juneau. I am the only candidate who has lived and worked on both sides of the District — 13 years in Kenai and 11 years in Soldotna. I am fiscally conservative and have a public record as an elected official both locally and in Juneau.

I look forward to the challenges facing the next Legislature and would appreciate your vote.

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