Dividend group going statewide

Posted: Tuesday, November 21, 2000

The grass-roots organization that spearheaded the Vote No campaign in September 1999 over the plan to tap Alaska Permanent Fund earnings is taking its message statewide.

The Save Your Dividend Organization, headed by Linda Reynolds, is setting up headquarters in Soldotna to coordinate activists across the state.

"Basically we want to get a group of people who are vocal and very active and concerned about saving the dividend in Alaska," said Reynolds, who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the House District 8 seat solely on a platform of protecting the dividend.

"I already know a large number of people concerned about Juneau's spendaholic problem," she said.

Other members of the board include Republican activist George Martin and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Jack Brown, who spearheaded the campaign of Representative-elect Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski.

Despite the heavy Republican presence on the board, Reynolds said the group is nonpartisan.

"We don't care what party you're with," she said. "Our job is to get state spending under control and save the dividend for future generations."

Reynolds said the group will be active in rooting out waste in state spending.

"We want to do a newsletter and name the big spenders and point out where spending can be cut," she said. "But we want cuts without harming services. That's key. We need serious, legitimate cuts that will not harm services."

Reynolds anticipates having board members in every community in the state, keeping an eye on spending.

"It's not a difficult thing to find people who don't want continued spending," she said.

Reynolds sees the statewide group being active year-round, publishing information about legislators and promoting reduced spending.

"The size of spending by the government should support our 600,000 population," she said. "But there is serious wastefulness."

She said claims that Alaska must spend more because it is more rural and colder or has longer roads are unfounded.

"We're no different than Montana. No different than Hawaii, and we're still spending more than both of them," she said. "We're spending way too much.

"We have the highest paid state employees who have the best benefit package," she added. "I like that fact that they are being taken care of, but they are being taken care of above and beyond."

The high pay and good benefits she claims state employees receive are putting good employees out of reach of private companies, and that is wrong.

"The state shouldn't be competing with the private sector," she said. "This big government has shut down the ability for businesses to grow."

She suggested the equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous classes for the state's "spendaholics."

She said the statewide Save Your Dividend Organization will be funded through membership dues. The group already is registered as a nonprofit organization, she said, although she did not know how much it would cost to operate the statewide headquarters of the group.

"We're not going to be like the state and build a monumental building," she said. "We're going to keep it extremely efficient and accessible."

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