Democratic candidate for Governor
Deborah Bonito (wife), Jacob Begich (son)
Anchorage assembly member and chair, mayor of Anchorage, U.S. Senator for Alaska, small business owner
Put it into my son’s college fund.
My fiscal plan would:
- Constitutionally protect the PFD (estimated over $2,000 per person this year), inflation-proof the Fund, and guarantee funding for pre-K-12 education;
- Reform delivery of government services – implement creative solutions to modernize government, increasing efficiency and saving money;
- Move from a one-year budget process to a two-year budget to create fiscal stability and certainty;
- Stop paying cash for capital budgets by using general obligation bonds to provide a stable, structured approach and a six-year capital plan; and
- After taking the above steps, bring together the Legislature with communities, experts, and others to determine the most effective and targeted ways to deal with new revenues – but none that fall disproportionately on Alaskans who can least afford it. We cannot cut our way to prosperity.
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?
My PFD plan takes the Dividend out of the hands of politicians and protects it in the state constitution, providing certainty for Alaskans. My plan would use the POMV formula and dedicate half of the funding for a stable and strong Dividend, and the other half would be constitutionally-guaranteed for education, pre-K through grade 12. My plan will help to create economic stability and reliable investment in our future. Based on today’s data, my plan would have given every Alaskan a dividend of more than $2,000 this year, while also freeing up $1.3 billion in general funds previously used for education. This approach will put us on a more stable, long-term fiscal path without unfairly penalizing Alaska families and communities who depend on the PFD the most.
Do you support the state paying health care providers less? If not, how would you limit state spending on health care?
There are a lot of things we need to do to bring health care costs down. Fundamentally, our health care system is designed to make money when we get sick, rather than valuing keeping us healthy. We have a small enough population to experiment with new models of health care coverage where health insurers are paid a fixed cost per patient, rather than getting paid based on which services we receive.
As Alaskans know all too well, we face some of the highest health care costs in the country. While these costs are a direct impact on family budgets and bottom lines, they also have systemic effects in areas like small business growth, education, and unemployment. The silver lining, however, is that the health care industry is currently the fastest growing sector in our state economy. This is a clear sign that with the right policies in place, health care doesn’t have to be a drag on our economy.
As Alaskans know, I support trying innovative approaches to change the status quo. There are opportunities to reduce costs and deliver higher quality services by working with employee groups and finding new, innovative approaches to delivering services. We also need to increase transparency to allow Alaskans to know the real prices of the services we pay for – awareness will drive prices down by making the market more competitive.
Where do you stand on the criminal justice reforms enacted by SB 91 and what changes (if any) would you like to see?
There has been a systemic failure on the state level to address the exploding opioid epidemic and increasing crime within our communities that has led Alaska to be ranked number one for crime nationwide – this is unacceptable. Politicians want to blame it all on Senate Bill 91, but the truth is that the failure is much bigger than one bill. There were parts of SB 91 that haven’t been working, and parts that are good, like an increased focus on rehabilitation for those dealing with substance abuse. But the legislature didn’t adequately fund key programs. That’s something that needs to happen. We need to really tackle our crime problems and not focus on a single bill to blame it all on.
When I was mayor of Anchorage, my administration cracked down on crime – adding more than 80 police officers as well as two prosecutors to the U.S. Attorney’s office who were part of a strategic effort to get drug dealers, gang members, and violent criminals behind bars and off our streets. We have to do several things simultaneously: address the opioid epidemic, substance abuse, and mental health issues; invest in local police through state revenue sharing; fully staff the Departments of Public Safety, Law, and Corrections; utilize innovative partnerships with federal prosecutors and leverage state resources; closely coordinate state and local government efforts; and bolster public safety in rural communities.
Alaska Insight video from Alaska Public Media