My turn: Moving the Legislature will decimate the economy of the entire SE region

Posted: Friday, March 28, 2008

J uneau officially declared a ghost town - that will be the headline in papers across the state if our legis- lators and governor have their way.

Sound a little too extreme? It shouldn't. Right now, with the help of Rep. Mark Neuman, R-Big Lake, the Legislature has advanced House Bill 54, which, in part, would allow other Alaska cities to compete for the chance to house a legislative hall. And all the while, our governor is sitting quietly on the sidelines just waiting to sign the paperwork when it crosses her desk.

I received two e-mails from the governor herself, prior to her election of course, stating that she is not in favor of the capital being moved out of Juneau. Her actions are saying quite the opposite. Maybe that was just what she needed to say to get elected. I know that was one of the only reasons I voted for her.

There are a handful of elected officials, like Beth Kerttula and Andrea Doll, Juneau Democrats, who are adamantly opposed to a capital move, and for good reason. If the capital gets moved, Juneau and other areas in Southeast are going to turn into ghost towns.

Opponents might say, "Juneau can survive on the tourist dollars that pump millions into their economy." They would be dead wrong too.

If the capital moves, most of the people are going to have to move just to find employment. A lot of the businesses will have to close since they will have hardly anyone left to sell things to. The summer businesses will end up pulling out because the cruise ships will stop coming in, which means they won't make enough money. People will end up having to walk away from their homes because they won't have anyone to sell them to. There will be such a downward chain reaction that all that will be left are the seagulls and the salmon.

The legislators want to move their sessions up north. The Alaska Permanent Fund bunch is once again talking about moving the headquarters out of Juneau. The governor is sitting on her hands letting it all play out like she has no influence in all of this.

Our governor needs to remember her "campaign promises" of being against a capital move and step in to stop this foolishness immediately. She may not want to get in the way of the legislators and their business, but her main business is to protect the best interest of all of us, the citizens, taxpayers and voters of Alaska.

Moving the capital and in turn decimating the economy of an entire region, not to mention all of the people that live here, is not in our best interest. It may be less expensive for the Legislature to meet in Anchorage - although there are suitable alternatives to them flying back and forth during the year - but losing the millions of dollars in tax revenue that is generated in Juneau and other Southeast communities will cause a huge deficit in the state's economy as a whole.

• Marc Mulkey is a small-business owner and state employee who lives in Juneau.

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