My Turn: Cut state spending by $1 billion

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2002

While enduring the chaotic atmosphere in Juneau, I was compelled to think of where we could further cut spending in government. Liberal newspapers have convinced many that we've cut to the bone and need taxes. This is an example of the Big Lie. We've cut in some areas, but added back a lot more in others. Reducing the rate at which the state expands its tentacles isn't a true cut.

Recently, I proposed a 10-point spending reduction plan and called it a "revolution." The reaction has been amazing. Correspondence has poured into my office. I've received over 200 e-mails, and all but a dozen agreed the emphasis should be cutting, not taxing.

Major spending cuts, funding essentials like roads, schools and troopers and no new taxes is the theme. Much of the media has spoken the Big Lie so often that many are starting to believe it. But they're wrong. Our state operating budget has actually grown over the years when you include oil dollars with federal tax money. The result is we have bigger government now than ever in Alaska's history, one that spends over $300 million more than just two years ago.

I've long maintained we can remove many of the non-constitutional functions, like merge departments into a smaller, core group of agencies, achieving efficiencies so we truly live within our means. My budget plan would cut $500 million the first year and $100 million in each of the next five years, totaling $1 billion from state and federal sources.

It would place a moratorium on new taxes, prohibit spending the Permanent Fund, cap spending and contract out services, like road maintenance and DMV functions. It would remove half of the 4,000-plus laws enacted since statehood and eliminate thousands of regulations government agencies have created over the years.

The plan would move the capital to the Atwood Building in Anchorage and reduce unneeded state bureaucracy by 25 percent in the course of the move. The Legislature would meet every other year for 60 days. Tax subsidies would be eliminated to organizations on the dole, including tourism, fisheries, agriculture, public TV and radio, and the arts, the Governor's Mansion would be closed and welfare would be cut by 50 percent.

This effort is going to take a mighty political will, coupled with the knowledge that our existing government ought to be made small, lean and efficient. After all, the intent was never for us to live in a state controlled by a big government that holds a whip over us. Our country's Founding Fathers envisioned a limited government, which can be achieved in place of the existing, bloated Leviathan.

To the establishment and liberal media, my approach is outrageous and radical. So many hard-working Alaskans have written me, however, who agree that it's these big government advocates who are in the real minority, not them. We as freedom-loving Alaskans are the majority.

But state apologists pretend to be the majority, as they comprise most of the print and electronic media. We must prove them wrong. If we wish to reclaim our state, if we wish to live in an atmosphere where freedom is the norm instead of government control, then we must act.

Alaskans from one corner of the state to another have said they want government reduced. Let's carry the revolution forward by raising our voices and pens. I encourage friends, neighbors, family and co-workers to insist that Juneau pay attention to us and get spending under control. I intend to hold true to my 10-point budget plan. No compromises.

But I can't do it alone.

I appeal for your help in demanding smaller government and stand ready to work with you. Call, write or e-mail me and I will send you my budget plan so you can help get the word out. Ask everyone you know to get involved and contact their representative. Let's form a massive pressure group with the end goal of taking our state back.

I'm repeating my call for a revolution. I love Alaska as you do and want future generations to live in a free and prosperous land. It can be done if enough of us band together.

Please join me in this glorious fight. We can win it!

Rep. Kohring is a fourth-term conservative Republican from Wasilla. He can be reached at 465-2186; by fax at 465-3818; and by e-mail at Representative_ Vic_ Kohring

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