Republican candidate for Governor
Wife: Rose, married 31 years. Children: Maggie-Lynn (26), Catherine (21), Ceil Anne (19)
State senator, 2012-2018. Member/President of Mat-Su School Board, 2009-2012. Superintendent, Northwest Arctic Borough School District.
Graduated Scranton Central High School, 1979. Graduated College Misericordia, B.A. History, 1983. Educational Endorsement Program, College Misericordia, 1984. Masters in Education, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1992.
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Fuel oil, car repairs, college tuition for my daughters, etc. – too many ways to list.
We need to keep a laser-like focus on the essential priorities of public safety, schools, roads, and natural resource management. Spending on programs that are not constitutionally mandated should be scrutinized carefully to identify savings.
The fiscal gap can and must be closed by reducing state spending to a sustainable level, and by growing the economy through natural resource development. Discipline on the spending side is crucial. If state spending is not controlled, no amount of taxation or raids on the Permanent Fund Dividend will be enough to rescue us.
A narrative has emerged in recent years that we simply can’t reduce spending any more. Many Alaskans do not agree. The most recent state budget spends over 10 percent more than the previous year. Alaska has the nation’s highest per capita government spending — double or triple the amount in many other states. This is unsustainable. As governor, I will introduce significantly lower budgets, and use my veto pen to control spending.
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 am the only candidate for governor that supports paying a full PFD, using the statutory formula that worked well for decades. I voted against every attempt to reduce the PFD, and I sponsored a bill to pay back to Alaskans the amount of their PFD that was vetoed by Governor Walker. I believe there should be no changes to the structure of the PFD unless it is approved by a vote of the people.
Protecting the PFD is crucial for protecting the health of the entire Permanent Fund because it creates an incentive for legislators to be frugal in spending the unrestricted funds in the earnings reserve account. I support following the law crafted by the founders of the Permanent Fund Dividend program, which allocates 50 percent of the earnings to pay for PFDs. The remaining funds in the earnings reserve can be part of our budget solution only if we reduce our budget to a sustainable level and put limits on future spending growth.
Do you support the state paying health care providers less? If not, how would you limit state spending on health care?
Obviously, contractual obligations with health care providers need to be honored. But looking toward the future, we do need to reduce costs. The budget for almost every state agency is profoundly affected by health care costs, from Corrections to Health and Social Services. There is no single, “silver bullet” solution for doing this, but rather dozens of reforms. For example:
- Tackling fraud, waste, and abuse (FWA): This occurs at all levels in our health care system – with patients, with providers, and with insurance companies. The state of Illinois launched an effort to combat FWA and saved over $430 million in the first two years.
- Medicaid block grants: As governor, one approach I may consider is requesting the federal government to structure Medicaid as a block grant to our state, which would allow our state the freedom and flexibility to set our own priorities.
- Help small businesses: I want to expand the use of private association health plans for small employers. The state Division of Insurance is looking into permitting these plans, but has not acted yet.
- Require work for certain Medicaid recipients: I support requiring able-bodied Medicaid recipients to work, undergo job training, or volunteer.
Unlike my opponent, I will NOT define success based on growing the number of people who are dependent on government health care, but rather on growing the number of people who have no need for government assistance in meeting their health care needs.
Where do you stand on the criminal justice reforms enacted by SB 91 and what changes (if any) would you like to see?
There are multiple causes to the current crime epidemic, but I believe that Senate Bill 91 has made our problems worse. The public has completely lost confidence in SB 91, and I have repeatedly called for a full repeal of this troubled policy. We need to end “catch and release” of criminals, and we need to deliver swift and severe consequences for criminal behavior – especially for individuals dealing drugs. We need to ensure that police, prosecutors, and our courts have the resources they need. We need to focus on strengthening Alaska’s economy. The misery caused by our economic recession — including the highest unemployment rate in the country — creates an environment in which criminal behavior is more likely to proliferate.
I believe the fast ferries must be evaluated in the context of a broader review of the Alaska Marine Highway System. In conjunction with my Commissioner of Transportation and the AMHS leadership, I would seek to engage the stakeholders and learn what can be done to improve the system. We need to talk with Alaskans who ride the ferry, and with the captains and crew members who operate the ferries and obtain their input on what can be done to improve scheduling and service. The AMHS is an essential component of our transportation system for Southeast and coastal Alaska, and we need to make whatever improvements are required to ensure its long-term future.
Alaska Insight video from Alaska Public Media