Alaska’s leaders fought for statehood all through the 1950s because our state was undeveloped but had great potential given our natural resources. During those years, we watched as Outside interests exploited our fisheries resources. Fish traps were abolished as one of the first acts of the new state. Now our well-managed fisheries are an example to all the world.
Our constitutional convention and resulting constitution confirmed our determination to reclaim all our resources for the maximum benefit of all Alaskans. That same logic and purpose is under serious threat this year. A proposal to amend the constitution to allow state money to be used for vouchers to religious and/or private schools negates the idea of maximum benefit for all citizens. Just as the lack of honesty about oil company profits and Alaska’s share of our resource wealth led to the SB 21 Oil Tax Giveaway, this new proposal depletes our school budget for all in favor of a stratified system and one allowing religious institutions to violate the separation of church and state specifically enshrined in our constitution. These attempts to challenge and overturn the basic principles of our carefully crafted constitution threaten the ideals we stand for as Alaskans.
I urge everyone to call or email your legislators and insist on refusing to amend our constitution and vote for repealing the oil tax giveaway in the fall election. We just can’t give away our people’s wealth and stratify our society against the principles we all support in our constitution and have tried so hard to follow since statehood.
Marsha E. Bennett