GUEST COMMENTARY: Medicaid not about saving money; it’s about serving people

Around the Capitol, there has been talk about “the high cost of Medicaid” and what can be done about it. Just the other day legislation was introduced in the Senate that would institute work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

Let’s be clear: kicking the economically-vulnerable off Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program might be one way to reduce healthcare costs, but it is undoubtedly not the right way. And in the end, is very likely to cost ratepayers more. There is no honor in reducing enrollment when it means the neediest among us suffer even more.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Time is right for infrastructure investments

From the White House to the steps of the Alaska State Capitol, the need to maintain and improve our roads, buildings, and other critical infrastructure is evident.

That is why Gov. Bill Walker introduced the Alaska Economic Recovery Act, which would establish a payroll tax capped at 1.5 percent that sunsets after three years. If approved by lawmakers, this proposal will inject $1.4 billion into deferred maintenance projects, improving dozens of communities across our state and putting more than a thousand Alaskans to work.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Dodd-Frank reforms show Washington can work

A bipartisan group of senators — Democrats, Republicans and one Independent — voted to pass the first set of substantial reforms to our nation’s financial system since 2010.

The bill that cleared the Senate was the result of multiple hearings, broad stakeholder input, and thoughtful negotiations between lawmakers of differing parties and views.

As Senate leaders work with the House to get this bill to the president’s desk for his signature, we thank Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan, who supported this bill on the floor.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Alaskans align on many issues despite division in capital

Since 1953 the Alaska Chamber has been the voice of Alaska business large and small across Alaska with a mission to promote Alaska as a great place to do business. To better understand the concerns and needs of Alaskans, the Chamber conducts a robust annual statewide poll — and the 2018 numbers are in.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Time for conversation on climate change and resource development

For too long, there has been an awkwardness in the way Alaskans talk about climate change and resource development in the same conversation. But there is no question on the very real impacts of climate change on Alaskans, nor in the continued need for resource development in this state.

This administration voices our commitment to not only deal with the impacts of climate change on the health and safety of our citizens and our environment, but also to provide our people a meaningful future with safe communities, quality education, a strong economy and good jobs.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Stakeholders not far apart on oil transport in Prince William Sound

If you’ve ever owned horses, you probably know that cleaning the barn first thing in the morning is good for the soul. I use that time to think. Recently, before going out to take care of my four-legged friends, I started pondering the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council’s recent resolution, the response from industry, and had a good shovel session to sift through it all.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Permanent Fund wasn’t established to pay dividends

What was the reason for the Permanent Fund anyway? Is our Permanent Fund dividend a constitutional right? Should it be?

Is it yours — government’s — or ours? Who does the Permanent Fund belong to? Should Permanent Fund earnings only ever be used to pay a dividend?

We need to solve these questions this year.

GUEST COMMENTARY: UA investing in innovation to help drive the economy

For many years, universities have competed for talented students by promoting academic programs, affordability, athletic teams, and campus life. Those elements remain a part of campus recruitment, but today smart students are increasingly making choices based on a university’s innovation and entrepreneurship programs.

There’s no doubt that a community that values innovation is good for our students, our community partners, and our state. At the University of Alaska, we recognize that investing in innovation and aggressively supporting applied learning is critical.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Treating the dignity deficit

Here’s the question: should Alaskans who receive Medicaid be required to work or volunteer as a condition of their benefits?

I believe so, and two weeks ago I introduced SB 193 which would require Medicaid recipients to engage with their community through employment, volunteerism or subsistence activities.

GUEST COMMENTARY: U.S. needs a plan to address the debt, now

Earlier this month in testimony before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee outlining the major national security threats facing the country, former Sen. Dan Coats, currently President Trump’s Director of National Intelligence, said:

The failure to address our long-term fiscal situation has increased the national debt to over $20 trillion and growing. This situation is unsustainable … and represents a dire threat to our economic and national security.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Bill to pay off credits fulfills state side of bargain

This week, the Walker Administration introduced a bill to pay off up to $1 billion of outstanding oil and gas tax credits by issuing bonds to pay for them at a fair discount. By purchasing these tax credits held by small oil and gas exploration companies, the bill will free up frozen credit markets to allow new exploration and development to continue.

This bill is part of Gov. Bill Walker’s economic stimulus plan calculated to put Alaskans back to work, and will ultimately result in increased production, leading to increased revenue for the benefit of all Alaskans.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Parish flunks out on oil taxes

Nobody could blame Rep. Justin Parish for loving the sound of his own voice.

The problem is that everything that comes out of the Juneau Democrat’s mouth regarding oil taxes following his baritone “Madam Chair” reveals a depth of knowledge that is shallower than a contact lens case.

Parish was on full, cringe-worthy display at a couple recent hearings of the House Resources Committee, where co-chair Rep. Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage, is forcing oil industry representatives to hump to Juneau yet again for more hearings on another oil tax bill that’s going nowhere.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Sessions kicks cannabis to Congress

The only thing surprising about U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinding the Obama administration’s policy of nonenforcement in states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana is how many people acted surprised by it.

A law-and-order Attorney General who stands in stark contrast to his lawless predecessors Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder and who has made it one of his missions to go after sanctuary cities for ignoring federal immigration laws was never going to maintain an official policy of doing the same for marijuana.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Let’s not be our own worst enemy in developing ANWR

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our congressional delegation of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young. They delivered the ultimate Christmas gift to Alaska: the ability to open the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for safe and environmentally responsible oil exploration.

ANWR has been a 37-year, uphill battle, once passed by Congress only to be vetoed by President Bill Clinton in 1995. Now that Congress and President Donald Trump have finally approved ANWR, Alaska must not squander the opportunity.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Private sector can build bridge to better economic future

How many special sessions in one year does it take for the Legislature come up with a plan to stem Alaska’s economic decline? Obviously not four, the new record set this year.

After nearly three consecutive years of recession, legislators remain divided over whether it’s better to raise taxes or cut government spending. While they argue, jobs, revenue and families continue to depart in a southerly direction at a worrying pace.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Historic opportunities for Alaska in Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

This holiday season, Alaskans can have a renewed sense of hope for good jobs, larger paychecks, stronger growth, and enduring prosperity. The reason why is today’s passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which includes two historic opportunities for our state.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Wrapping up a wild year from ANWR to Zinke

Just a few days remain in 2017, and what a year it has been since the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

While the Alaska Legislature still can’t agree on a solution to the state’s budget woes and has nearly run out of the politically-accessible savings accounts, in a welcome change it has had no bigger friend than the leader of the executive branch in Washington, D.C.

As this column was being written the news came that a bill is on its way to Trump’s desk to massively overhaul the tax system and hand Alaska its longtime, No. 1 goal of opening the coastal plain of …

GUEST COMMENTARY: Are you being fooled by constant claims of a crisis?

Have you ever wondered why every year since Gov. Bill Walker took office the state’s estimated budget deficit has been reported as $2.5 billion? Have you asked yourself why the Walker administration estimated oil production would fall by 12 percent this year when it actually increased by 2.5 percent?

Why does he have such a pessimistic view of Alaska’s future? The answer to these questions is simple. Gov. Walker pushes a narrative of “crisis” because it justifies the economically destructive actions that he has taken during his tenure.

AJOC EDITORIAL: GOP finally delivers on promise to Americans

Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain to development wouldn’t be necessary if only we could power our economy with Democratic hysteria.

The biggest outrage since the last outrage, of course, is the impending passage of a tax reform bill that should reach President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature before the end of the year.


Mid-June 1970: one of the most important days in my life. It rained, as I waited in-line outside a trailer in Johnson’s Trailer Court in Valdez to receive my first dispatch. That day, I received my first dispatch ticket from Laborer’s 341 business agent Jim Robinson to begin work on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.


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