The Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD)
The PFD seems to be the big issue in the Senate District D race. My three opponents Dan Mayfield, Senator David Wilson and write-in candidate Stephen Wright are campaigning on a full PFD be paid out. I'm the only candidate that is not making a campaign promise of a full PFD payout.
For the past three years, the legislature has used the Earnings Reserve to pay for operating costs. For the past three years I elected to voluntarily not apply for the PFD. I made a conscientious decision to not apply for the PFD because three years ago I knew the State of Alaska was heading towards a fiscal crisis.
Voters should ask the three other candidates if they applied for the PFD when the state used the Earnings Reserve to pay for operating costs.
It's easy to make a promise, the hard part is keeping that promise. I won't make the promise of a full PFD, because I know it's a promise that cant be kept.
Knik Arm Bridge
I do support the building of the Knik Arm Bridge. The time is now to build it. How to get the money to build it will require using some of the PFD over five years. While Mayfield, Wilson and Wright support building it, their campaign promise of a full PFD will kill any attempt to build the bridge. Any promise of federal dollars being allocated is questionable since the Highway Trust Fund will be insolvent making it difficult to obtain federal funds.
Lot's of broken promises and dreams have been made on this port. Arguably when it comes to voting in elections, voters in the valley have been taken for granted by our federal legislators. Our federal legislators were able to secure 618 million dollars for upgrading a port in Nome. But the deep water Port MacKenzie is left dormant.
Given the location of the port, one promise I will make is: if elected, I will aggressively lobby our federal legislators to secure defense appropriation funds for a navy oceanic research facility to be built at Port MacKenzie. Years ago during the cold war, the naval research branch discovered hydrothermal vents across the Pacific Ocean's floor.
Just recently, scientists at Stanford University discovered that the vents form algae blooms and these blooms can poison shellfish in Alaska as ocean currents push the blooms towards shorelines. The Southeast Tribal Ocean Research as all of the fisheries in Alaska would benefit from an oceanic research facility located at Port MacKenzie.
Moreover, a navy research facility would have a dual purpose, and the second purpose would safeguard our fishing fleet in the Bering Sea from being harassed by the Russian navy which occurred recently. With no navy presence in Alaska, Russia will take advantage of the lack of a navy presence.
The second largest state operating budget goes to education. The Alaska Constitution mandates that the State of Alaska fund education. The state has listed some quick facts that pertain to the entire state education system.
Pupil to teacher ratio - 16.35
Number of teachers - 7,889
Average teacher salary - $70,277.33
The 2019-2020 total student numbers for PK-12 for the state is 132577 students. The three top school districts are Anchorage with 46,184 students, next the Mat-Su Borough at 19609 and last, the Fairbanks North Star Borough at 13351.
The State of Alaska FY 20 operating budget for education was $1.87 billion. When averaged out, the State of Alaska is paying out $14,105.00 per student to teach every student in Alaska. Now the problem with a centralized school system, (which is how the three largest school systems operate) the cost to teach a student varies from school to school in each district and the student enrollment can decrease funding while there is no change in the operating or maintenance costs.
The centralized school system is arguably the most inefficient type of school system.
Years ago when I ran for school board in Anchorage, I argued that the decentralized school system used by the Edmonton School District in Canada was more efficient and cost less to run. That fact holds true today.
When the costs to operate and maintain a school are made directly at each school and are fully funded, you will find that costs are shifted because some schools have a higher cost per student based on the students needs or higher maintenance cost.
I support the State of Alaska fully funding education but doing so under a decentralized approach. This will relieve property owners of paying high property taxes that go to education.
Substantial cuts have been made to the University of Alaska Anchorage (U.A.A.) Governor Dunleavy cut $130 million dollars (41%) from the university budget. The problem with funding U.A.A. is the land endowment is poorly managed and the university has no education endowment. The California Institute of Technology has an education endowment over $2 billion. The state should authorize the creation of an education endowment with revenues coming from newly developed oil fields like Willow in the NPR-A to build the value of the endowment.
This would allow the University of Alaska to offer expanded courses in technological fields so that 11th and 12th grade high school students could enroll in the technology courses and become certified in the studied field.
Health and Social Services
Listed below is a general summary of how Medicaid costs drop when coverage is continuous under a blockchain technology.
"Blockchain technology has the potential to address many of the privacy, security, and interoperability problems that plague health IT and indeed health research. In this paper, we introduce a specific blockchain-based innovation: the smart health profile. This profile uses such blockchain tools as tokens, wallets, smart contracts, and oracle services as a foundation for rethinking the way that individual health and financial information is accessed and used across a wide variety of systems and applications. To introduce the smart profile, we focus on a solution to the specific problem of churning in the Medicaid program—that is, the constant exit and reentry of beneficiaries as a result of eligibility changes. However, as a sophisticated tool in the blockchain toolkit, the smart health profile can also prepare health IT and health research to take advantage of emerging artificial intelligence systems and may eventually lead to entirely new models of health care delivery."
The bottom line:
"Studies show that the average monthly Medicaid cost per person drops by nearly 50% when coverage is continuous for even 12 months— from $597 to $345 per person per month."
"Ultimately the result of all these costs is poorer health outcomes for a significant portion of the poor adult population and a higher health burden on society as a whole. Clearly, an information infrastructure that could streamline the qualification, requalification, and interim coverage options for poor adults would greatly improve the overall functioning of the Medicaid system, improve the lives of millions of people, and even build greater productivity of the social economy."
With the pandemic we are not going to be able to cut healthcare services. There will be increased unemployment and rising healthcare costs.
One source besides using blockchain technology to decrease fraud and waste is to realize that with the legalization of marijuana, social services and health related issues are going to increase which puts a further burden on the financial responsibilities of the State of Alaska.
I am in favor of sales taxes placed on alcohol and marijuana to the level that the costs associated with their abuse is recovered by the State of Alaska.
I drive the Glenn Highway 4 days a week and the occurrence of accidents is rising. In the winter, accidents are frequent and cost lives, lost time for business owners and workers.
The causes for the accidents is careless driving and poor roads conditions. The State of Alaska has the ability to mitigate the reasons for the accidents by providing more Alaska State Troopers monitoring the Glenn Highway and early snow removal maintenance when it starts to snow.
The costs for road maintenance can be met through an increase in a state gas tax which will have to take place.
The costs for an increase in troopers can be achieved through the operational funding.
As for federal funds, the Highway Trust Fund is becoming insolvent and the federal government is looking at raising the federal gas tax to cover the debt. I'm against our federal legislators raising the gas tax to cover the debt, because the increase in revenue will not be allocated for maintenance but instead, used to pay the debt off.