Spring forecast digs budget woes deeper

When Gov. Bill Walker presented his budget in December, $100 million was all he could come up with for spending cuts. Anything beyond that would likely "crash" the Alaska economy; also, his budget would not balance without a host of new taxes on everything from fish to liquor.

Among those new revenues he sought, he proposed an income tax -- calculated at 6 percent of what you and I pay to the federal government, if indeed we are fortunate enough to have enough taxable income.

Things have changed for the worst since his budget was released and the subsequent fall revenue forecast was made public on Dec. 30.

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Chairman Goldberg statement on Brussels terrorism attack

By Peter S. Goldberg, Chairman
Alaska Republican Party

March 22, 2016 is another sad day in Europe. Three Islamic terrorists took the lives of nearly three dozen innocent people and wounded many more.   

Unfortunately, this was neither an isolated incident nor can we expect it to be the last. Many of Europe’s countries have opened their doors to a flood of refugees. Most of these immigrants are very likely seeking a new and peaceful existence, but the truth is that these waves of people had evil Islamic extremists within their ranks. The attacks in France, Spain, Turkey, and Belgium are ample evidence that ISIS and like vermin have infiltrated Europe.

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What is next for ANILCA?

The case that moose hunter John Sturgeon brought against the National Park Service led to an historic decision today, but the U.S. Supreme Court made a narrow decision and punted the question of state sovereignty back to the Ninth Circuit:

We do not reach the remainder of the parties’ arguments. In particular, we do not decide whether the Nation River qualifies as “public land” for purposes of ANILCA. Sturgeon claims that it does not; the Park Service that it does. The parties’ arguments in this respect touch on vital issues of state sovereignty, on the one hand, and federal authority, on the other. We find that in this case those issues should be addressed by the lower courts in the first instance.

"From the beginning, a unified front has argued that the National Park Service has overstepped its boundaries through a wholesale neglect of ANILCA and the many provisions that protect Alaska’s sovereignty," said U.S. Representative Don Young.      

"While the Supreme Court stopped short of reaching a conclusion today, they went to great lengths to describe the uniqueness of Alaska and the historical context in which ANILCA prescribes exceptions to the status quo federal management – recognizing 'the simple truth that Alaska is often the exception, not the rule,'" Young said.

Activist Craig Compeau had several suggestions for Gov. Bill Walker as a result of the ruling, including having the state assert its right to all historic and present-use trails under RS 2477 and stopping all memoranda of understanding with the federal government in order to review them in light of today's decision. In his press conference, the governor thanked Compeau for his suggestions and moved on to the next question.


John Sturgeon, Alaska hunter, prevails against Park Service

Today's U.S. Supreme Court reversal of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision has made Alaskan John Sturgeon into a giant-slayer. 

Back in 2007, Sturgeon was on the Nation River in the middle of the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, using a hovercraft to get to place to hunt moose, as he had since 1991.

But the National Park Service rangers he encountered that beautiful fall day decided he could not use his small rubber boat (which had broken down) because it was too noisy for a national park. 

Sturgeon wasn't even allowed to take his boat out of the preserve under its own power. The rangers told him he'd have to get another boat to haul it out.

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Attorney General: Taxes will diversify our economy

JUNEAU - In a Senate Finance Committee hearing today, Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards and Revenue Commissioner Randall Hoffbeck presented Governor Bill Walker's "Sovereign Wealth Fund Plan," SB 128.

The two argued how Alaska's oil-dependent economy needs to be more diverse.

Except that in the Walker Administration's scenario, economic diversification does not mean the economy itself is diverse; it means the funding for government needs to come from more diverse sources of taxes.

 "Alaska certainly has unique situations but it's not totally unique, in fact not unique at all," said Attorney General Richards, "in the sense that is suffers the problems of a commodity-based economy. 

"It's at the very high end of an undiversified economy in terms of its reliance on petroleum as a percentage of governmental budget," Richards said. Procyclical spending, he continued, means we have spent less when we had less revenue, and more when we had more revenue.

He argued for flatter spending and offered the committee some Keynesian economics lessons. "Simply smoothing out the curves  a little bit is ultimately good for the about a third of a point of GDP (gross domestic product)."

He then went on to describe countries around the world that had gotten off of cyclical commodities-based economies by adopting broad-based taxes.

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Revenue commissioner: Income tax 'unlikely' this year

JUNEAU - In a speech to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Commissioner of Revenue Randall Hoffbeck did an about-face on Governor Walker's proposed income tax. He surprised the group by saying it is "unlikely" the tax would be passed by the Legislature this year.

The income tax is a cornerstone of Walker's fiscal plan to address the state's $3.8 billion budget gap. The governor and his surrogates have been pushing it since he introduced the tax in December.

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Delegate count recalculated after Rubio suspends

ANCHORAGE - Ted Cruz and Donald Trump will each have 14 delegates assigned to them, now that Sen. Marco Rubio has suspended his campaign.
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Offshore leases? Obama has nothing to show for himself

OBAMA LOCKS UP OFFSHORE, AND HIS ARCTIC 'PLAN' IS A CHIMERA: Shell Oil didn't spend $7 billion dollars on its Arctic drilling program, only to decide the prospects were not that good.

Shell left because, after such a robust investment and years of delay by the federal government, it became apparent the current Washington DC regime would only allow it to drill one well: A $7 billion well.

Thus is the irony of this week's announcement by the Obama Administration. On the one hand, Secretary Sally Jewell and the Department of Interior say they may have more offshore lease sales in the Arctic in the future. But if they do, they warn the leases will come with even greater regulatory hurdles.

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No Obama Supreme Court Nomination

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 16, 2016

ANCHORAGE – Alaska Republican Party Chairman Peter S. Goldberg issued the following statement on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee:

“In his waning days as president, Barack Obama continues to try to fulfill his promise to fundamentally change America. With the nomination of Merrick Garland, Obama would try to secure his legacy, curbing our Second Amendment rights, locking up Alaska, and denying us access to the very resources that make us a viable state,” Goldberg said.

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Chairman: Hillary owes families apology for statement

ANCHORAGE – Alaska Republican Party Chairman Peter S. Goldberg today made the following statement about Hillary Clinton’s claim last night that “We didn’t lose a single person.” in Libya:

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