State Spending

During the last two years working with Rep. Neuman (R-Big Lake) on the House Finance Committee, I had the opportunity to assist him with reducing the Department of Health and Social Services budget by nearly $15 million in that period and had proposed even greater reductions that were restored later in the budget process.


Unquestionably, the most important issue we must address, especially in this election cycle is our fiscal stability. It isn’t only about reducing spending, streamlining government services and more thoughtfully prioritizing spending; nor is it only about a sensible tax structure that encourages private investment and helping our economy grow to increase our revenue stream—it must be about both!


Certainly, fiscal restraint is an absolute requirement in this time of declining revenue and should be the approach of state government generally. However, we can’t “cut ourselves into prosperity.” I am not a “slash and burn” fiscal conservative that proposes things like an across-the-board budget reduction of some random percentage. Cuts need to be made thoughtfully and strategically.


The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation shows that Alaska has the highest per capita state spending in the country, by nearly a factor of 2-to-1 to the next closest state [1]. This is a trend that has to stop!


With regard to capital spending, construction projects, we must maintain a “laser-like” focus on core infrastructure projects, completing the projects we’ve already started and addressing the constantly growing backlog of deferred maintenance issues. In short, let’s finish what we’ve started, take care of what we have and prioritize what we need rather than what we want.


As a staff member for the House and Senate Finance Committees, I have helped reduce state spending. As a legislator, I will continue to do the same.


Increasing revenue is a critical component to stabilizing our state finances. This is why I strongly supported SB 21 and strongly oppose ballot measure 1. While our oil and gas resources are exactly that—OURS!; we need dependable and experienced private sector partners to help the state of Alaska monetize those resources. State government doesn’t have the expertise to develop our petroleum, and I don’t believe that is the function of state government.


In order for Alaska to continue to be competitive, not only in oil and gas but as a business incubator among multiple industries, we must have a reasonable and stable tax structure that is inviting to outside investment and a regulatory framework that says “Alaska is open for business”.


As your legislator I will aggressively pursue regulatory changes that encourage new industries to invest in Alaska and encourage local hire for Alaskans.


Total State Expenditures per Capita

Crime, Corrections & Public Safety

Private gun ownership is a founding principle of our federal and state constitutions. Furthermore, a number of studies, including those from Harvard University and the Cato Institute[1], clearly show that as private gun ownership increases, rates of murder and suicide decrease. I fully support existing Alaska gun ownership laws including the “Castle” and “Stand your ground” doctrines.


Before writing new laws, lengthening sentences and adopting harsher penalties, we must consistently enforce the ones we have. In addition, we must provide law enforcement the tools to do the difficult job we’ve tasked them with. The recent tragedy in Tanana that left two of our State Troopers dead, highlighted the need for changes in Alaska Statute like allowing Village Public Safety Officers (VPSOs) to carry firearms. Fortunately, that bill is awaiting the Governor’s signature, but we must be more vigilant and proactive to prevent these tragedies in the future.


One of the most effective ways to reduce the money we spend on corrections is to adopt strategies to reduce individuals from re-offending (recidivism). As a member of the House Finance Committee staff, I had the opportunity to work closely with Sen. John Coghill’s office on his omnibus crime bill (SB 64) and include provisions designed to reduce recidivism by helping non-violent offenders re-enter the workforce. As your legislator, I will work to implement programs aimed at recidivism reduction.


Quality education is a foundation for a growing economy and a civil society. Well educated kids turn into responsible and productive adults that contribute to a strong economy and reduced crime. In addition, education is one of the core functions/obligations of our state government. The framers of our state Constitution understood this so much so that they included specific sections under Article 7 providing for both a public school system and for the University of Alaska (Article 7, Secs. 7.1 & 7.2)


While much has changed in the nearly 60 years since our Constitution was ratified, our obligation to our current students and those of generations to come remains intact and more relevant than ever. What has changed in that time is how best to meet our constitutional obligation. As education budgets have soared and more federal unfunded mandates have been placed on the states, and thus local school districts, we must consider new strategies to ensure that more of our limited public dollars go toward classroom instruction.


Both in Alaska and around the country, there is a growing trend toward alternative approaches from the traditional public school model. Homeschooling, charter schools and school choice continue to increase in the matrix of options for K12 education and in the dialogue about how decision makers wrestle with the complicated issue of public education. We need to carefully consider every option available to provide our kids the best education possible.

Fish, Game and Public Land Access

I support the mission and work of the Citizen’s Advisory Commission on Federal Areas (CACFA) and will look for ways to increase their role in helping Alaska manage its land and work with the federal government in developing policies that impact Alaskan’s access to those lands.


We must protect access to Alaska’s fisheries resources for ALL stakeholder groups. The Department of Fish and Game in concert with the University of Alaska are currently studying the disturbing trend of the dramatic reduction in the abundance of our King salmon stocks. I will support Chinook abundance research efforts so Alaskans will continue to have dependable access to this valuable and iconic resource.


Similar to the issues that necessitated the creation of CACFA is the relationship between the state and federal government for the management of our fisheries resources. While many fish species are largely or entirely managed by the state, halibut is managed by the federal government under the National Marine Fisheries Service. The recent reduction in bag limits for Alaska recreational fishermen illustrate the need for greater state involvement in, if not direct control of, halibut management. I will work with stakeholder groups and our congressional delegation to advance state control of halibut management.

Legislative Process and Transparency

The Legislature conducts its business is almost as important as business its conducting. In 2006 voters approved a ballot measure to reduce the legislative session from 120 to 90 days. At that time, the merit behind this change was more obvious.
Fast forwarding to 2014, things look very different. The Legislature begins taking up legislation almost immediately, and many legislators choose to spend more time, during Session, in Juneau in order to get more work done.


Even with these encouraging changes, the Legislature is left to contend with some major pieces of complex legislation that can change, in significant ways, on a daily basis. While legislative committees go to great lengths to provide time for public testimony, the Legislature’s daily schedule is generally out of sync with the everyday lives of the constituents it seeks to serve.
It is ironic that the ballot measure approved in 2006 designed to make the Legislature more responsive to Alaskans and do its business more efficiently has resulted in the public having less opportunity to weigh in on important legislation that will shape our future.

I believe we should continue a 90 day legislative session. However, I think the Legislature needs to adopt internal procedural reforms to provide the public with greater opportunity to testify and the Legislature more time to thoughtfully deliberate on the increasingly complex issues with which it is must wrestle.


I support maintaining the 90 day legislative session.


I will work with House and Senate leadership to make changes to the Uniform Rules to allow for greater committee work during interim periods. More work that can be done during the interim provides more time for public testimony and careful analysis by the House and Senate and their respective committees during the regular session

I intend to set aside entire days of committee hearings designated solely for public testimony for any committees I chair, and I will encourage other committee chairs to do the same.


My staff and I will be available to our constituents 7 days a week because legislators should have no greater priority than representing the people they were elected by.