29 Months, and Counting

Senator Kelly does "Who, me?"

Senator Kelly does “Who, me?”

The national media have started to notice the sad state of Alaska’s economy. Newsweek even has an article.

April was the 29th consecutive month of job losses in Alaska. Maybe it is time to re-think the Mike Dunleavy- Pete Kelly approach to recovering the state’s economy?

After all, Senator Pete Kelly (R, Arrogance) told us to judge him by what he kept from happening, not by what he accomplished. So let’s look at what he has kept from happening:

  • A balanced state budget, because he refuses to consider an income tax, a revenue source in place in 46 states.
  • A healthy state university, one of Alaska’s economic engines.
  • Preservation of the Constitutional Budget Reserve, the state’s primary government operations savings account.
  • Reversing Alaska’s population decline. No jobs, no plan, no hope: young people are trying elsewhere and retirees as well.
  • New jobs.
  • Maintenance of the state’s infrastructure.
  • Capital improvements.

WC is certain that Senator Kelly would boast he has prevented imposition of a state income tax. At this point, that seems to be the quintessence, the very definition of a hollow victory. WC is unaware of any economist familiar with Alaska who thinks that is a good outcome.

Senator Kelly thinks it is a very good thing that crude oil prices are starting to recover. But that’s only good news if you prefer Alaska commit slow economic suicide as opposed to addressing fundamental threats. Crude oil produced is inescapably more CO2 produced, which is more more anthropogenic climate change. That is going to cause a whole host of very expensive problems for Alaska as sea ice continues to vanish, ocean levels continue to rise, and permafrost continues to melt. As those crises worsen, as global warming accelerates and is magnified in the arctic and sub-arctic. The solution is keeping crude oil in the ground. Senator Kelly is cheerleading for making things worse.

Some years ago, WC was consulted by a charity that had seen its donations shrink by 75%. It turned out the agent’s executive director thought that asking for money was “demeaning.” WC’s legal advice was to fire the executive director. The charity’s Board of Directors asked WC to deliver the news. When WC told the E.D. she had lost the confidence of the Board, and asked for her resignation, she said, “Yes, my work here is done.” In practical terms, she looked at the smoking ruins of a formerly successful agency and declared victory.

Senator Kelly, if he has a strategy beyond opposing a sensible tax plan, is equally self-delusional. In the short term, he has wrecked Alaska’s savings, exhausted budget reserves and left Alaska’s economy in a long-term recession/depression. In the middle- and long-term, his strategy, such as it is, is to increase conduct that is guaranteed – absolutely guaranteed – to severely damage Alaska’s infrastructure.

He’s running for re-election. WC hopes that Alaska voters are less delusional than Senator Kelly, and throw him out. Alaska and Alaskans can’t afford him.