We have just compiled the first ever Alaska Pork Book which documents the frivolous State of Alaska spending on “capital projects” from 2005-15. It seems as if the State has been spending its winnings from the “oil lottery” on wasteful, unnecessary projects. Unfortunately, these projects tended to be Alaska’s version of federal stimulus money and did very little to increase the vital infrastructure in the State. Infrastructure such as roads.
Remember, this “oil lottery” money was provided by Alaskans to fund government operations in exchange for the surrendering of our subsurface mineral rights. And we trusted our elected officials to be trustees of these monies and to use them wisely. The State chose to pick winners and losers by sending Alaskans’ resources to the special interest class, buoyed by lobbyists. It leaves those of us without access to power on the outside looking in.
And now Alaska is in a real “pickle”. The State has run through its “oil lottery” winnings and is now calling on Alaskans to pull it out of its budget hole. Public unions, contractors, quasi-government organizations and hundreds of nonprofits have benefited from past capital budgets. The average Alaskan did not benefit.
We recommend 3 reforms:
- A State spending commission similar to the federal Grace Commission to do a forensic audit of the entire Alaska budget to pinpoint waste and identify opportunities for savings
- If revenues exceed estimates, then the legislature would be required to return the surplus to the future Alaska taxpayers
- Limit spending to constitutionally mandated services, and improve transparency and accountability for how Alaskans’ money is spent
Pay attention to the number of nonprofits who have received “capital” grants to fund them.