Calling on all Alaskans! If you don’t read anything else political between now and the next legislative session in January, please bear through the numbers and read this piece. You will be shocked but you also will be well-equipped to answer the questions above.
Point of View
In the midst of a busy season, another deadline looms as open enrollment for the 2018 Health Insurance Marketplace ends Dec. 15. The open enrollment period is the time for folks to choose their health insurance coverage for 2018. This year, Alaskans have five plan options available on the marketplace.
After 33 years in Alaska, our family moved to Homer over the spring of 2015.
Moving oil is a risky business, especially across Cook Inlet’s notoriously rough waters. But who assumes the risk? And if it’s Alaskans who depend on healthy fisheries who bear the risk, how much risk are we willing to accept?
Changes are once again in the wind for the old Homer Middle School, fondly known as the HERC. This time, there’s conversations among some City Council members to sell the land and building. The HERC (Homer Education &Recreation Complex) sits on a 4.3-acre chunk of prime Homer real estate on the corner of the Sterling Bypass and Pioneer Avenue which some consider to be the “gateway” into Homer.
Tourists and Alaskans alike know that my hometown, Homer, sits at the end of the Kenai Peninsula, overlooking Kachemak Bay. But they may not be familiar with a small cove across the bay that’s been in my family since the 1940’s. I have grown up in this magical place, drinking fresh spring water, swimming in the lagoon, and walking across the only pure sand beach in the area.
Missing in the town hall presentations by the director from governor’s office and our local legislator was equal time for alternative ways to match programs with revenues. Many economic experts oppose the idea of taking PFDs as bad for the economy. The first dividend was $1,000. This year that has the purchasing power which $400 did in 1982. This month, the Permanent Fund Board has told Alaskans that the Fund will be reduced by half in 20 years because the legislature has stopped inflation proofing. The investment officials also said that the proposed POMV (percent of market value) would take too much and also cause the Fund to lose.
I am part of a family of five with three children ages 12, 10 and 6 all enrolled in Homer public schools. A Homer alum myself, I attended schools here K-12, went to college and graduate school then returned to Homer. I am well versed as both a student and now a parent of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. For years the public school system in Homer has run fairly smooth but the staggered school times that the KPBSD board has implemented this fall are coming at a great expense to the families, community and likely children’s safety while travelling to and from school.
He was holding a wrench and a rag. From across the road, I watched him wipe his forehead with his short sleeve. But, really, what I was staring at was the motorbike he was working on. It was a humid afternoon in the mountains of Luzon, more than a 15-hour bus ride from Manila, and I was on my own again, with no idea how to find my hostel. The jeepney — an American jeep from World War II refashioned as a form of public transportation in the Philippines — that was headed my way wasn’t leaving for another couple of hours; or, in the Filipino time I was beginning to understand, for five or six more hours. If ever.
On Oct. 5 I will be holding town hall meetings in Ninilchik (Senior Center noon to 2 p.m.) and Homer (Islands and Ocean Center 7-9 p.m.) to meet with you, and to gather constituent input on the state budget. Director Pat Pitney of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget will be joining me at both meetings to answer questions and listen to your comments. The budget has been the primary focus of the Legislature this past session as we no longer have sufficient Constitutional Budget Reserve savings to get us past the next fiscal year. We are out of time. Policy decisions need to be agreed upon now so the administration has time to implement new revenue structures prior to our savings running out.
On Oct. 3, 2017, the residents that live outside of city limits on the Kenai Peninsula Borough will be voting to decide whether or not they wish to halt the cannabis industry operating in the borough.
The Oct. 3 borough-wide ballot proposition on the sales tax cap is not about growing government. It is about continuing to provide a quality education for Kenai Peninsula students and balancing annual revenues with annual spending decisions, while maintaining a responsible fund balance for the borough.
Tutka Hatchery Pink salmon suppresses our wild fisheries
In November of 2014, after years of serious study and contentious debate, the people of Alaska voted to legalize marijuana. Alaskans have always been true to their libertarian leanings and this was another example. Good people are now able to proceed with their productive lives without an anachronistic law hanging over their heads.
Libraries have always held a special place for me in communities large and small all over the world—attending language school in Chile, teaching in Indonesia, on many college campuses (all of my own and where my husband attended school). The Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is where I scheduled meetings with my PhD advisor countless times and probably will again in the final phases of dissertation completion. The phrase, “Let’s meet on floor 2, outside the Oral History room,” is one of the most memorable from the entire process. Financially, libraries have been essential because of the thousands of books cited for my thesis and dissertation, dozens more for academic papers and journal articles and hundreds more just for personal entertainment for family and myself. If purchased, all of those would have added substantially to the cost of my education and I would need another room in my house! The books already take up the most space.
Tax reform is a priority agenda item in the 115th Congressional session. In the coming months, we will hear significant proposed changes to the extremely complex income tax laws. One of the hotly debated provisions will be what to do with the corporate tax rate. The current rate of 35% is the highest in the industrialized world. When you add the corporate amount charged by most states the total in near 40%. The average rate levied by other industrialized countries is about 23%. This is a huge disadvantage for American businesses in the global economy. It is driving American corporations and their profits offshore to avoid such a heavy tax burden.
The Homer tribal wars of 2017 that began with the political ineptness of a city council and then became fully inflamed by the baser instincts of people who are quicker to judge than to forgive was an appropriate time for examining the real meaning and implications of diversity.
On my way to the late Homer Farmers Market today, I met a couple of first-time visitors to Homer. Now we all agree that where we live is an amazingly beautiful place. On a sunny day we all love sharing that spectacular view of Kachemak Bay from the top of Baycrest Hill. We all love returning from the drive to Anchorage to that same view. Undeniably knock-your-socks-off gorgeous! But these two particular visitors were blind. They weren’t impressed with the view.