The Education Session, Gasline Project, Fiscal Cliff, which is it? Can legislators pick one and get something done during this legislative session? Alaska’s future depends on it.
One need watch only a little of Gavel Alaska to see that partisan politics is in the driver’s seat right now. Not surprising, it is an election year. Good leadership is so badly needed.
Governor Parnell, in his State of the State speech, asked sides to come out of their trenches and work together. I had a moment of relief – then he threw his grenades and declared this the Education Session. He submitted SJR9 which amends our state constitution; grenade number one. Then he threw his support to share public school funds with private school choice; grenade two. Supporters of SJR9 say it isn’t about money. It is clearly about money. And, it’s about amending the constitution. What a distraction from the Gasline Project. Alaskans are now pitted against each other over Education funding. Good job Governor. Education is near and dear to the heart of every Alaskan, so the war is on. I’d say “Bad timing Governor.”
Add to the Education war the Gasline Project and oil tax legislation. both critical to our economic future. To date, no apparent consensus is emerging via legislative hearings. In fact, there is deep division. Why the Governor couldn’t have declared this the “Economic Session” I ask myself? The younger generation must have a job, better yet a career. Nothing is more important than a robust economy. Perhaps the Education/Constitution grenades were a deliberate distraction, a political strategy, I have to wonder. I’d say “Focus leadership, focus.”
It is very difficult to listen to the Gasline Project (SB138) hearings. It is incredibly boring but one message about the complexity of this strange partnership with giant oil producers is getting through loud and clear. Perhaps we, the state, are in over our heads. I don’t know how it’s going to work with so many moving parts. Intelligent arguments are being pitted against the deal struck by Governor Parnell. On top of that, there is no trust on either side, let alone with the general public. I do know we don’t have a lot of time to figure it out. I’d say, “Think Leadership Governor”.
Then there is the dark and looming Fiscal Cliff. We cannot have a good education system or a healthy economy without money to invest in both. I don’t agree with the popular opinion to cut program spending. I do support cutting government size and spending. State operations and the capital budget could be the first step in reduced spending if we had courageous leadership. Smart budgeting and internal audits would produce millions in immediate savings, however, I don’t see any political will to go this direction – but one can hope. I say, “Pray Alaskans, pray.”
In summary, I’m confused and I doubt I’m the only one. Stellar, courageous, and productive leadership can take us out of the confusion and lead us to prosperity. Fortunately, it is an election year. We get to choose this November. I say “Vote Alaskans, vote!”