Candidate Walker’s Positions on Alaska’s Budget in October 2014

Recent News — By on July 7, 2016 at 2:52 PM

The following is a letter from then-candidate Bill Walker to United For Liberty dated October 2014 (emphasis added):

I chose to run as an unaffiliated independent candidate because I believe that politics have become too partisan for the wrong reasons and we have been mired in political party bickering and stopped solving problems.  The old, retread, political party, mentality encourages politicians to act like they are the smartest people in the room and pits ideology over ideas and look where that has taken us.  Political parties have effectively created an unnecessary, adversarial mentality pitting Alaskan’s against one another.  This attitude of perceived superiority is disgusting and needs to be expunged from Alaskan politics.   My candidacy is a huge threat to the “establishment” cronies and they will stop at nothing to scare people into keeping their “retread” ideas and failed candidates in place, regardless of their poor performance.

As a Governor you are both a problem solver and a vision setter.  Right now Alaska has neither.  For the past five years Alaska has had no vision and there is no plan for the future except for the massive deficit budgets that Governor Parnell is printing.  It is also clear that Governor Parnell is unwilling to take responsibility for our economic woes.  The first step in problem solving is admitting that you actually have a problem.   I find it irresponsible to only listen to ideas from one perspective simply because of their party registration.

If you can’t take responsibility and admit when you are wrong and if you are not willing to identify all of the problems on your watch and be honest about them, it shows your weakness as a leader and that is what we have with Governor Parnell.  He is fearful and refuses to admit when there is a failure or problem and he lacks the command bearing to make quick, decisive, executive decisions early and not wait until the 11th hour or right before negative reports are about to be released.

Government should be a last resort, not a first resource and I am fighting to free Alaskan’s from the grasp of government that harasses them from Juneau.  We elect too many people that lack the skills to problem solve which has lead to far too many political solutions that never make an impact on the bottom line.  Governor Parnell is only focused on political solutions in regard to budget cutting and he rationalizes (makes excuses) by only being willing to cut the budget to levels that will ensure he keeps a 16 vote, veto majority, in the legislature.  Our lack of revenue and massive deficit spending are leading us to total financial collapse and we need a command leader and not someone that makes excuses for not making the tough decisions.  I will make the tough decisions and our state government will not be held hostage by any group, business, industry, union or individual. 

As Governor I believe in:

  • Diversifying Alaska’s Economy and look beyond just oil and gas for future prosperity;
  • Legislating a balanced and sustainable budget and requiting the governor and legislature to identify revenue sources to pay for every penny proposed spending;
  • Rejecting the notion that Juneau politicians need to look at stealing money from your PFD or instituting a state income or sales tax in order to pay for their growing appetite to spend money we don’t have.  A balanced budget does not mean tapping our state savings account to pay what you are unwilling to cut;
  • Improving learning by rejecting “Common Core” or similar “Alaska Standards” models and replacing it with local control, increased respect for parental rights, and increased diversity in our curriculum that expands technical and vocational opportunities;
  • Reversing the accelerated decline of Alaska’s Fish & Wildlife Resources.  It’s time for a new management model at the Alaska Department of Fish & Game that increases State/Tribal co-management partnerships and looks toward local and traditional solutions to solve regional problems;
  • Attack Alaska’s high crime rates and refocus on how to solve problems by tackling root causes not symptoms.  Just increasing the number of law enforcement is not a solution to lowering the nations leading crime rates.  Solutions must be tied to specific root causes and measured continuously for results;
  • Demonstrate leadership and respect for Alaska Natives and work diligently to resolve the ongoing conflicts with them rather than litigate and ignore them as has been the practice for the past five years.  It’s time for the State of Alaska to initiate the conversation with Alaska’s largest private land owner and 17 of the 20 largest employers in the State;
  • Produce Alaska’s first energy plan & make the diesel generator a relic in museums within 15 years;

I have been asked how I will cut spending and shrink government with a democrat as lieutenant governor or having endorsements from unions.  My answer is fairly simple, as governor you are the Chief Executive of Alaska and responsible for ensuring sustainable fiscal stewardship. Look at how well having two republicans have helped us balance the budget and control deficit spending.  They created our current fiscal situation and ignored the bleak revenue forecasts and plummeting oil prices, but forged ahead with record breaking spending. 

The fiscal policy of Alaska will be set by the Governor and I will not support spending money we don’t have and I will not support spending more than we are taking in.

In terms of whether or not an individual or a union supports my campaign has no bearing on my responsibility as a governor to balance the budget and build a system that ensures a sustainable budget long-term within the first 4 years I am in office.  In the dire straights that we face right now with ballooned budgets that far exceed our revenues means that I will be forced to find efficiencies, make painful cuts, and identify cost savings through consolidated and shared services across departmentsState government will become much more lean and we will all have to grasp the reality that we must reduce our State spending aggressively and immediately.  Just because a person may be a member of a union doesn’t mean they are immune from the impacts of repairing Alaska’s unsustainable fiscal situation.  Parnell’s Plan is to spend down the budget reserve over the next four years to balance his deficit budget and leave the next governor with a real mess because they will have no choice but to tap the PFD or institute a state tax of some sort.

Cuts will be methodical, deliberative and all impacted constituents will be asked to the table to share their ideas as how to best approach what is inevitable.  But I guarantee that once we have righted the ship and begun living within our means with a more lean and conservative state government, we will all experience more freedom and prosperity and we will ensure that when we are long gone that our children will be left with a state that is healthier than the one we have today.

Most states and many municipalities are legally required to pass balanced budgets each year.  But a budget that is balanced isn’t always one representing a healthy spending plan.  At the most basic level a sustainable operating budget is one where normally occurring revenues are equal to your normally occurring expenditures.

And alternatively, extraordinary sources of revenue are used for extraordinary, one-time expenditures.  States can cheat, and often do, en route to implementing their “balanced” budgets by implementing unsustainable spending methods that practice underfunding pension liabilities, deferring maintenance on infrastructure, and depleting cash reserves.  This is exactly what Governor Parnell has done.

Alaska has consistently underfunded its pension obligations over the last two decades.  Once well-funded, the state’s pension fund today lacks the money it needs to make good on all its benefits promises for the future.  We must go beyond just paying down the principle with our savings because the problem is still not solved.  More is being paid out than is being put in so a complete solution needs to be constructed and instituted.

Rainy day funds like the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) are there for a reason.  In terms of the CBR, when the economy contracts, the state government is still expected to provide services.   Consequently, many Alaskan Legislators and Governors have chosen to draw upon our reserves instead of cutting to balance the budget and bring it inline with revenues over the long-term to ensure it is sustainable.  Regularly drawing down reserves is not a sustainable way to balance a budget.  In particular, using CBR funds creates red flags in the eyes of credit ratings agencies.

The current administration has consistently hit deficits, outspent their budgets, and squandered reserve funds in the process.  The governor has irresponsibly turned to Alaska’s reserves and is demonstrating that he is incapable of keeping state government living within its means and he has placed Alaska in a precarious position for the next economic downturn.

This governor has refused to support and the last legislature failed to pass HB136, which would have required the governor to produce a revenue plan to accompany any proposed spending to show where the funds were coming from to pay for the reckless spending behavior of our state government.  Why is the governor afraid to demonstrate how he is going to pay for things over the long term without compromising constituents?  Parnell would rather choose to deplete the CBR and open the door to tapping the PFD or creating a state tax rather than cut spending all because he doesn’t want to encounter a possible veto override of a responsible budget by the legislature.  It is all politics with him all the time.

Since Governor Parnell has been in office Alaska has seen state spending balloon from an average of $3.28 Billion to $6.73 Billion.  Governor Parnell is responsible for doubling our debt load and causing Alaska to deplete $6 Billion from our emergency savings, for a non-emergency, all because we didn’t have a spending and revenue plan in place or a fiscal conservative at the helm.  When you couple this with the refusal to quit deficit spending over the next decade it is root cause of what will destroy the prosperity of our children and grand children.  Governor Parnell is misleading Alaskans regarding his responsibility for deficit spending.  Governor Parnell wants you to believe that he has presented a balanced budget and he even talks as thought he has actually cut the budget.  Governor Parnell raised the budget 2.5X then made paltry cuts it claiming to be a budget hawk, which resulted in a budget that was still raised by 2X over his tenure.

This is the same charade being committed at the federal level that ignores the double sized increase of spending.  Doing this demonstrates Parnell’s  willingness to deceive Alaskan’s.

In regard to revenue today, Alaska is a one trick pony and as long as we are so dependent on oil for revenue Alaskan’s will face two terrible outcomes; Forced us to discuss a state tax or invade of the PFD, both of which I am strongly opposed to and would fight tooth and nail to prevent.

Why has Governor Parnell refused to work on conveying Alaskan land into private ownership?  It is unacceptable that only 1% of Alaska’s land is owned privately.  It is time for Alaska’s next Governor to boldly fight, not whisper, and start the work to begin conveying land to the citizens of Alaska.  If we conveyed 500,000 acres a year to Alaskan’s it would take 200 years to convey it all.

In discussing or promoting the building a gas line it must be open to both non-union and union workers.  People should have the right to associate, but associations should not be permitted to control government, bind governmental decisions or control employment in a free market.  All workers should be protected in the workplace, but not at the expense of freedom and the free market.

I am a staunch prolife supporter and have been my entire life and as a Christian my moral and ethical values come from my faith.  I don’t need to make a pledge to show how strongly I believe or how hard I will fight for every unborn child.  As a father and grandfather I believe in the sanctity of life and value it from conception.  My wife Donna and I have devoted much of our life to helping mothers to choose life over death when facing the decision of abortion.

As your governor I will ensure that you have the facts and information needed to support or oppose decisions being made in Juneau that will impact all of us for generations to come.

I am an advocate for liberty and freedom and will fight to free you from the grasp of government that attempts far too often to control our private lives from Juneau and beyond.  As your Governor I will be your first line of defense in protecting your personal privacy and individual rights.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about me and my campaign and invite email and phone calls through my campaign office to answer questions you may have.

 

Bill Walker,

Candidate for Governor

(Note that the price of Brent crude was $86/barrel in Oct 2014 and was $48/barrel in June 2016)

 

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