Alaska Chamber of Commerce could show budget courage, but opts for worthless advice

The Alaska State Chamber of Commerce has blessed Alaskans with another in an endless series of pleas for budget cuts, without bothering to include any useful advice.

Curtis Thayer, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, who has been in and out of government work for a long time, can't identify $500 million or $1 billion to cut from state spending.

That's because the service cuts would inflict great damage on the Alaska economy. Instead, Thayer offers a poll saying people want budget cuts.

Stop the presses. There will never be a poll in Alaska that reaches any other conclusion when the questions are asked in the vague manner used on the Dittman poll.

Suppose the chamber  had polled Alaskans about which departments to close, how much of a pay cut teachers should get, how many schools and schools districts should shut down, how much should be cut from the Alaska State Troopers and the University of Alaska and how much should local property taxes increase?

Had the chamber bothered to ask about real choices, perhaps the answers would contradict the Republican strategy that the way to win elections is to talk about budget cuts in a general way, never offending voters with difficult details and options.

"Alaskans still believe that the road to a balanced budget must be paved with cuts to spending and services," Thayer writes.

Today is a good day to ask Curtis Thayer if the road to a balanced budget is also paved with cuts to spending for repairing bridges on the Glenn Highway. There is a connection between state spending and services.

The Alaska Chamber of Commerce could help its members and everyone in Alaska by showing some courage. It can identify programs and services to eliminate, say what size the Permanent Fund Dividend should be, how much should be drawn from savings and what taxes are needed to keep Alaska in business. 

Dermot Cole7 Comments