Democratic candidate for Senate District Q
My wife Karen Allen and our daughters Tsifira and Adara
Assembly member, City and Borough of Juneau
Staff to Sen. Dennis Egan (2009–2018)
Juneau Assembly member (2011–present)
UAS Campus Council (2015–present)
Board member, Alaska Municipal League (2014–present)
Staff to Sen. Kim Elton (2000–2009)
Executive Secretary, Alaska Board of Education and Early Development (1999–2000)
Intern, Gov. Tony Knowles (1997)
Intern, U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, (1996)
Steller Secondary School, diploma and Whitman College, BA
We donate some through Pick.Click.Give., and the rest we put away for the girls’ college funds or save for retirement.
It’s past time for Alaska to stabilize the state budget so the private sector can grow unhampered by the roller coaster of oil prices. With a sustainable budget, Alaska can make the targeted investments we need in education, public safety, and building and maintaining our infrastructure.
Getting there takes a number of tools. First, parts of our oil tax structure don’t make business sense for Alaskans as owners of the oil. With targeted reforms, Alaskans will get the best value for our resource. Second, we must protect the Permanent Fund. I support a constitutional amendment that sets a maximum draw and establishes a split between essential services and dividends for Alaskans.Third, we need to connect a healthy, growing economy with the services government needs to provide to support that economy. An income tax is the best way to do that because it means nonresident workers — who earn about 20 percent of the wages in our state — contribute.
With a sustainable budget, we’re far less likely to see countless pink slips sent out to teachers and public servants each year — treatment our dedicated workers don’t deserve.
Do you agree with using a portion of Alaskans' PFDs to fund state government? If not, what government services would you propose cutting or taxes would you propose raising to pay for it?
I support a constitutional amendment to protect the Fund — one that includes a guarantee of a future dividend for Alaskans. As our state matures from using almost exclusively oil to pay for essential services, we’ll have to use some Permanent Fund earnings to balance the budget. But the PFD is essential to many families and plays an important role in our economy. Our constitution should establish how much must go to a dividend and how much the state can use for services, as well as setting a maximum draw so the legislature can’t ignore the effects of inflation and deplete the fund.
Do you support the state paying health care providers less? If not, how would you limit state spending on health care?
There are several ways we can make our health care system run better and lower Alaskans’ costs without arbitrary caps on providers. The state can negotiate rates with providers and help all employers — public and private — pursue more innovative ways to keep Alaskans healthy. More preventive care, managing chronic conditions, and keeping up our work to educate young people about the dangers of things like tobacco and preventable illnesses will all reduce health problems and therefore costs down the road. We must also protect Medicaid expansion. Because of Medicaid expansion, another 40,000+ working Alaskans now have health coverage, including access to preventive care. That’s critical for our families, and it matters to Alaska’s economy. To date, Medicaid expansion has saved our state millions in general fund dollars and brought more than $1 billion of additional federal funds into our economy.
Where do you stand on the criminal justice reforms enacted by SB 91 and what changes (if any) would you like to see?
We need to do more to address crime in Alaska. Senate Bill 91 was implemented backwards. States like Oklahoma and Texas warned us that we couldn’t do only half of the things that reduced crime in their states. If Alaska shortened hold times in order to keep offenders in their homes and jobs, we also needed to build monitoring and treatment, too. The monitoring is just now fully online, and the treatment is still sorely lacking. Without those pieces, SB 91’s reforms looked a lot like catch-and-release.
I’ve worked as chair of the Juneau Assembly’s Finance Committee to help address the state’s gaps. We increased staffing for the Juneau Police Department, increased addiction treatment capacity, and funded mental health services. But not every Alaska community can do that.
I’ll work in the legislature to address the public safety system from multiple directions, including increasing law enforcement recruitment and retention by fixing our pension system. I worked on this with Sen. Egan and will keep fighting to bring back the chance to earn a real pension. As the only state without any sort of pension for new employees, we struggle both to recruit and keep our public safety officers — at great cost. Alaska can reduce crime with targeted investments in public safety, more treatment, and more experienced law enforcement.
The Marine Highway is a critical piece of our transportation infrastructure in Southeast, and I want to see all her current vessels sailing. Before legislators commit to specific funding, we need to work with the ferry system and make sure the vessels and the schedule meet our region’s needs. I strongly support the Southeast Conference’s effort to improve management of the Alaska Marine Highway System because we need better long-term planning at the ferry system. In recent years, we’ve seen more turnover in the fleet and strange direction changes from managers, like the attempt to spend an extra $13 million per vessel to repurpose the brand-new dayboats. With some expertise and stability overseeing the system — including a meaningful voice for shipboard employees — we’ll be able to put the right boats on the right routes for Alaskans and our region’s economy.