March 23, 2016
Contact: Cassandra Stalzer, 907-334-0520
ANCHORAGE, AK – As part of its Plan4Alaska education campaign, today Rasmuson Foundation convened a meeting of Alaska’s former Governors and Lieutenant Governors to discuss the historic budget crisis and the state’s options for solving it.
Governor Tony Knowles, Governor Bill Sheffield, Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell, Lt. Governor Loren Leman, Lt. Governor Fran Ulmer, and Lt. Governor Stephen McAlpine were in attendance at Rasmuson Foundation’s office in Anchorage and Governor Frank H. Murkowski participated via videoconference. A picture of the meeting is attached.
The group agreed unanimously on the following six points:
- We do not have enough revenue to pay for the government we currently have. We have to do some significant changing in how we do business.
- We need a combination of cuts and new revenues.
- The Permanent Fund was created to help pay for essential state services when oil declined.
- Everybody benefits from state services and everybody should help pay for them. It is important for people to help pay for governments so they are connected to how government funds are spent.
- We can protect the Permanent Fund dividend for the long term if we commit to use a share of Permanent Fund earnings to make a significant reduction in the deficit.
- Making decisions today to adopt a sustainable, balanced budget is essential. The longer we wait, the fewer options we have.
“I joined this group because I believe we have to work our way thought this situation and we have to do it this year,” said former Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell.
“We agreed that it is essential that the state act now and not later to address this situation,” said former Lieutenant Governor Fran Ulmer. “We don’t need a stopgap, one-year solution, we need structural changes in how we fund our government. That means both cuts and revenues.”
Public opinion research commissioned by Rasmuson Foundation shows that Alaskans are overwhelmingly concerned about the crisis, prefer a comprehensive plan over a cuts-only strategy, and want elected leaders to act this year.
“I’ve been down this road before, and it’s not pretty,” said former Governor Bill Sheffield. “I’ve seen Alaskans lose their jobs and their homes. I’ve watched banks fail. I’ve witnessed Alaska go through a deep recession, and it is not something I would ever wish upon my fellow citizens again. The Governor and the legislature must act, and the Alaska public needs to support them in making the decisions that have to be made.”
With four weeks left in the current legislative session, the Alaska Governors and Lieutenant Governors in attendance at today’s meeting intend on continuing to talk with their fellow Alaskans and advocate for urgent action on the budget this year.
For more information, please contact Cassandra Stalzer by phone at 907-334-0520 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rasmuson Foundation has launched a statewide campaign to talk with Alaskans about the budget crisis, to share facts and options, and to explain the urgency of acting now. We hope this will energize a mandate from the public for elected officials to make the tough choices this year. If we want to preserve Alaska for the future, we need a comprehensive, long-term solution to our budget problems. Learn more at Plan4Alaska.com.