Capital Notebook: In search of the Promised Land

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2002

Democratic Rep. Carl Moses says that a long-range fiscal plan is a CBR issue for him.

The Constitutional Budget Reserve has been tapped in all but two of the past 10 years to balance the state general fund. Another draw of at least $1.1 billion will be needed to balance the next budget. Democrats gain their only direct leverage of the session when that vote comes up, because it takes three-quarters of the Legislature.

Bill McAllister can be reached at

Moses, a 17-year veteran from Unalaska, said during videotaping of the Alaska SuperStation program "Capital Focus" on Thursday that he wants to see a package with at least $500 million in new revenue before he votes for using the CBR again. If the CBR isn't tapped, there could be a government shutdown at some point.

"We're going to follow Moses to the promised land," quipped House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz of Anchorage on Friday.

That apparently puts Senate Finance Co-Chairman Dave Donley, an Anchorage Republican, in the role of Pharaoh. Donley reaffirmed on "Capital Focus" that, personally, he does not support any broad-based taxes until voters approve a constitutional limit on spending.

There's no truth to the rumor that Interior legislators now will form the Burning Bush Caucus.

Results from last week's e-mail poll on the rhetoric of the subsistence debate:

By a margin of about 4-1, self-selected readers rejected comparisons between the rural subsistence priority and racial segregation in the South, an analogy advanced by Sen. Robin Taylor and Rep. Scott Ogan.

"One cannot a pose a logical argument against a subsistence preference without being accused of racism," wrote Art Chance. "No wonder Taylor and Ogan preemptively wrap themselves in the holy sacrament of Rosa Parks."

But others said the Taylor-Ogan analogy is ludicrous.

"These are pretty lame words from the ones who own the court systems and its Euro-southern-type thinking that is foreign to indigenous people's living with nature," wrote Wanda Culp.

"The racial discrimination of the '50s was all one-sided and no one of any color other than white agreed with it," wrote John Littlefield.

There's no doubt that if the subsistence issue ever gets resolved, all Alaskans can lay claim to the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, I'm free at last!"

"Capital creep" refers to the gradual movement of state government out of Juneau, often used to describe agency commissioners who have changed their principal residences to Anchorage.

But one Capitol staffer says there's now "legislative creep."

With a big election year coming up - in which many incumbents could face new voters due to redistricting and in which a number of representatives are eyeing Senate seats - members of both parties are leaving more aides behind in their districts, according to the staffer. His concern: "They can cosmetize campaign work to look like constituent work."

This redeployment of personnel is not to be confused with legislative creeps, who are a very small group of elected officials.

Quote marks:

"There are two versions: He thought he was dead, or he saw me and thought he had gone to hell." - Rep. Con Bunde, on Rep. Joe Hayes' reaction to being in a car accident Tuesday.

"We are the greatest people on earth in an emergency." - Ketchikan Mayor Jack Shay, comparing the potential economic effect of a state fiscal collapse to the Good Friday earthquake, and urging action on a long-range plan this session.

"We're not using up any of the natural resources that belong to the state." - Cruise industry official John Hansen, on why his companies shouldn't pay Alaska taxes as multinational oil companies do.

"I've never met a poor oil company. It's a distortion of how we should be business-friendly." - Juneau Sen. Kim Elton, opposing legislation giving Arctic Power $1 million to lobby Congress on opening the arctic coastal plain for oil exploration.

Bill McAllister can be reached at

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