I am sure that many of you have been watching the Legislature and it's continuous war to pass new legislation. For the last few years, each session seems to have gotten nastier and more tumultuous. You may have thought that this is just a normal state for a legislature and to some degree that is true.
However, what you may not be aware of is the fact that our legislators, to some extent, are under attack from out-of-state powers. First of all, we elected a majority of Republicans to run both the executive and legislative bodies. The same thing has happened at the national level. Historically speaking, this situation has occurred before and this country has had no lasting negative effects. But this time the Republican majority has remained in place for a longer period of time and massive amounts of funds have accumulated to not only keep it that way but to pass new legislation that would change the way this country, and this state, works and lives.
An example is SB141 and associated bills. You may have heard the governor mention that this piece of legislation is the most important legislation and must be passed. He points out that the retirement system is short by $5.6 billion. But SB141 does not resolve that problem in any way. The shortfall, in fact, does not affect the retirement system at all and is expected to get better, not worse, under the current system. The method the Senate and the governor have suggested has been tried by other states and has been found wanting. Some states have changed back. So, why the rush to pass this bill? Why not wait and do a little research for a year or so before jumping from the frying pan into the fire?
The answer is that big money and the Republican National Party want these changes and are willing to put enormous pressure on our legislators via the governor. This pressure comes in the form of telling any Republican legislator that if they don't vote the way they are asked, they will lose capital projects, municipal funding in their area and money to run for re-election. It takes away the right of our elected representatives to make their own decisions on critical legislation and it places people outside of this state, who could care less about the people of Alaska, able to pull the strings of Alaskan government.
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