I want to thank everybody who helped with the forum on Alaska's fiscal future at Centennial Hall in Juneau on Feb. 20 sponsored by Alaska Common Ground and the League of Women Voters. My thanks go particularly to those who participated: Professor Sharman Haley of the University of Alaska's Institute of Social and Economic Research; Sen. Con Bunde; Rep. John Coghill; Rep. Max Gruenberg; Rep. Jim Whitaker; Office of Management and Budget Director Cheryl Frasca; former Gov. Jay Hammond; former Rep. Bill Hudson; Gregg Erickson; Jerry Reinwand; George Rogers; and Tim Bradner.
I also thank all of the League of Women Voters volunteers who helped, particularly Marianne Mills, Ellen Varosi, and Cheryl Jebe.
The forum appeared to advance public understanding, both among those at Centennial Hall and among those who watched it on cable TV around the state.
One of several interesting points made at the forum was Mr. Hudson's suggestion that concerned citizens form study groups to analyze the state's fiscal system and the potential ways to fix it. Any Alaskan who wants to do that should start with reading the latest edition of the Alaska Department of Revenue's Revenue Sources Book. This document can be found at www.tax.state.ak.us/SourcesBook/2002FallSources/f02index.htm on the Internet.
With the writing and editing of Deputy Revenue Commissioner Larry Persily, these Revenue Sources Books have become treasure troves of information on the fiscal gap. (Trust me on this one: I used to edit this publication, and it's a lot better now.) Larry is a model public servant - whip smart, hard-working, and absolutely dedicated to helping Alaskans. He is leaving government for a while, and the quality of the Revenue Sources Books he worked on will stand as one of the most important legacies of this stint in public service.