We will remain unable to develop a budget based on the needs of Alaskans until we can get beyond the partisan stranglehold that exists within our state legislature.
We need to stop the bleed of appeasement payments to multinational corporations before we drain resources like the PFD from Alaskan residents.
There is an understanding that the fiscal rut we find ourselves in did not happen overnight, and in order to correct that, we need to speak frankly and firmly about the roles of multinational corporations in our state economy. We need to transition to economies of the 21st century that will build Alaska rather than continue to outsource our profits to multinational extractive corporations under a 19th century model. Alaska deserves better than to be treated as an extraction-resource colony. It is time to build an economy based on our people’s need for a sustainable future.
We need to leverage our natural resources to boost the tourism industry as we begin the transition away from an oil-driven state budget. As tourism traffic steadily climbs, we have an opportunity to fuel this economic growth with increased access to our parks, better funding for maintenance and staff to ensure Alaska remains a destination for natural beauty. Our tourism industry brings in far more money than we spend on it, and can be part of the solution to a balanced state budget if we continue to foster the growth of this economic sector.
Our future will depend on utilizing the innate entrepreneurial spirit and resourcefulness of our people. Our innovative spirit, which has led us to be uniquely independent, will allow us to become industry leaders for technology, alternative energy, local food production, and health care.
Just as we need to transition toward 21st century economic models, we need to make the necessary changes to our educational systems to meet the challenges of our modern world. Our education system, much like our economic system, has been sold out to multinational corporations that care more about profits than Alaskans through standardized testing and externally controlled distance-education.
Our current education system in Alaska is a product of federal overreach and the increasing corporatization of education in this country. We need to develop our own local solutions that recognize the geographic realities of our state instead of continuing to expect lower-48 programs to work for Alaska.
Continual legislative budget cuts have left our school district scrambling to cover basic costs like student transportation and bonds. Investing in Alaskan-based education is the single greatest investment we can make to foster strong communities. This needs to include everything from early education programs, strong K-12 schools, a robust University of Alaska system, and appropriate vocational and technical training programs. We need to keep our talent in state by providing appropriate education that will prepare our children for 21st century jobs.
Finally, we need to support working parents and empower childcare professionals to provide high-quality childcare that promotes good early-childhood education. Often the cost of quality daycare will nearly cancel-out the monthly income of one parent. If any Alaskan needs to give up time with their child to make ends meet they have the right to know that it will be quality childcare at a fair cost.
Without adequate, maintained infrastructure we can not hope to improve our economy nor empower Alaskans to build our communities. Our roads and bridges are crumbling since our bought-and-paid-for legislature has repeatedly cut maintenance in favor of corporate welfare to support endless mega-project studies that continue to go nowhere. For example, in the Mat-Su Borough we especially need adequate maintenance for roads and bridges and development of emergency response infrastructure in light of increasing river erosion and wildfire that has a high potential for massive loss of homes and property.
Broadband internet access is another area of infrastructure development that we need to prioritize. Reliable access to the internet provides expanded digital job opportunities for all Alaskans especially those living in remote communities. Every single Alaskan deserves access to affordable broadband capabilities. We need to ensure this technology reaches even the most remote areas so we can keep our communities strong. There has never been a more effective tool to educate and connect people from all backgrounds.
We need scale-able, local energy solutions that are built to fit the communities they serve rather than a corporate pocketbook. Our rural and remote communities face energy struggles that cannot be fixed using traditional energy grids. Through developing the technology necessary to implement local energy solutions we could save hundreds of millions per year.