Fairbanks, AK – Members of the Alaska business community today thanked Governor Bill Walker for taking initial steps toward putting the state on solid financial footing by asking Alaskans to take a hard look at government spending, as well as potential revenue enhancements.
“We know from our scientific poll conducted earlier this year that a majority of Alaskans want to see the State of Alaska ‘make deep cuts to state spending, even if it means a reduction in services,’” said Rachael Petro, President and CEO of the Alaska Chamber. “As leaders of organizations that represent thousands of Alaskans and their families, we encourage participants at this weekend’s fiscal summit in Fairbanks to focus first on making sure government is spending tax dollars wisely and efficiently, and making sensible reductions where possible, before asking the business community or individual Alaskans for more money.”
Members of the business community set to participate in the “Building a Sustainable Future” event in Fairbanks are grateful to the governor for setting the tone back in January. In his State of the State address, Governor Walker emphasized the need to control government spending before considering additional taxes.
“First and foremost, Alaskans need to realize how much government spending has grown in recent years,” said Rebecca Logan, General Manager of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, a resource development trade organization representing more than 550 businesses across Alaska. “The State of Alaska’s spending levels are simply not sustainable.”
As the Alaska public engages in this discussion about spending reductions, it is important to remember that cutting some programs, particularly those designed to stimulate the economy, will have consequences that may not be desirable. For example, eliminating tax credits for new and small oil companies could result in those companies slowing or even abandoning new projects designed to put more oil in the pipeline and increase revenue to the state. Similarly, doing away with tax credits in the Cook Inlet could jeopardize Southcentral’s natural gas supplies.
“It is time for the governor and the government to make the hard choices about state spending before coming to the businesses and citizens who drive this economy,” said Richard Schok, President of Flowline Alaska. “We look to Governor Walker to make good on his campaign pledge to reduce state spending by a minimum of 16 percent. He and the Legislature need to do what they were elected to do and make hard choices and lead. Taking such bold action now will reduce the need for more drastic measures in the future, which could include a potential personal income tax, a broad-based sales tax or other taxes.”
The business community looks forward to hearing the discussion this weekend, and thanks the many Alaskans giving up a summer weekend to engage in the hard conversations about what Alaskans want this state to look like now and in the future, and how we get there.
About the Alaska Chamber
The Alaska Chamber, a private, non-profit corporation, operating since 1952, works to promote a positive business environment in Alaska. The Alaska Chamberis the voice of small and large business across the state with a Board of Directors comprised of 80 members representing all regions of the state. For more information visit alaskachamber.com.