Legislative wish list

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 19:00

As our local legislators return to Juneau for the legislative session, we’d like to first wish them well in their travels. Although they’re often criticized for “hiding down in Juneau” on the state’s dime, the work of our elected officials is neither glamorous nor comfortable. Between time spent away from family, long hours in meetings and uncomfortable trips back and forth to Southeast, they’re not exactly living the high life down there. We sincerely wish the best for these citizen representatives who truly sacrifice much of their own comfort for the greater good.

When it comes to our wish list for Chugiak-Eagle River and Alaska this session, however, our request is much simpler:

Spend wisely.

A recent newspaper article reported the state is rapidly on its way to deficit spending. Declining oil prices, as well as diminished production, mean the money isn’t flowing nearly as easily as it did even a few years ago. If you attend local chamber of commerce meetings, you’ve likely heard the same thing from both state commissioners and area legislators over the past few months.

The fact is, Alaska is still a very wealthy state. Recognizing this, lawmakers over the past few years have returned from Juneau carrying armloads of money for their local districts. And our area — by virtue of powerful legislators in high places — has received more than its share of the spoils. In fact, several good local road projects were funded by the Legislature last year, as was a new volunteer fire station as well as dozens of other smaller projects.

But the mentality of, “because we got some good stuff from Juneau our legislators did well” must end. Because for every fire house built in Chugiak, there’s got to be something for someone else. That means more artificial turf football fields, more airline tickets for traveling basketball fans, more money spent on things we don’t really need but wouldn’t mind having.

Legislators are also notorious for solving problems that don’t exist. Each session, a flood of new bills is proposed as our senators and representatives seek to further protect us from ourselves. But one could argue that Alaska’s laws are working pretty well already. In fact, one could easily argue that we’d be just fine if not a single new law was enacted in the next year.

Quick, think about it: Can you think of a single new law that you just can’t live without?

Neither can we.

This area is known for electing conservative legislators, and we believe most people here believe the role of government should be to get out of the way and let people live their lives.

Our wish for the current legislative session is for local lawmakers to respect their conservative constituency and vote for a smaller budget, save more money and pass fewer laws than they did the year before.

We can pay our own way to the Shootout, thank you.

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