Gov. Murkowski seeks compromise on budget

Empire editorial

Posted: Sunday, June 20, 2004

Thumbs up to Gov. Frank Murkowski for wanting to reach a compromise with lawmakers and the people of this state on use of the Alaska Permanent Fund.

What the governor proposes is this: Use some of the $27.7 billion fund to bring the state's budget deficit under control while guaranteeing a $1,000 annual dividend for eligible Alaskans.

There may be a fatal flaw in the governor's proposal in that he wants to make permanent fund dividends a part of the state's constitution, and that could be fraught with peril down the road. Protecting dividends in another manner would be a safer bet politically and would make much more sense fiscally, especially in the event of a sustained economic downturn.

Lawmakers who have scoffed at Murkowski's proposal evidently aren't keeping their eyes on the ball economically; the state still faces a budget shortfall in the billions over the next several years despite record-high oil prices. It's clear something must give between the governor and members of the Legislature.

Lawmakers must also consider this: A $236 million road and school construction package now hangs in the balance. Without the permanent fund plan, the governor has said there will be no road and school package. To have neither would be a serious setback and none of us needs that.

Thumbs up to the city of Juneau for its plans to add a sports field and more parking at Juneau-Douglas High School as part of the next phase of renovation at the school. An added bonus in the project are separate drop-off areas for Harborview School and the adjacent Marie Drake building, which will gain additional parking spaces as part of the renovation.

The sports field, which will measure some 155 feet by 300 feet, will be situated between the Augustus Brown Swimming Pool and the Marie Drake building. Some 34 parking spaces will be added in the area from JDHS to the school district's central office next to Harborview.

To make up for the sports field and additional parking, however, some of Harborview's front playground will be lost and a grove of spruce trees at the corner of the Marie Drake building and the Harborview parking lot must be sacrificed. The overall greater good is that the area around JDHS will be less congested and more functional.

And, finally, thumbs down to those who, when visiting the trail near the Brotherhood Bridge, think they just have to snip a fistful of irises to take home. Have a heart, will ya? If you want a vase full of cut flowers, why not support your local florist instead of turning a public trail into your personal floral supplier? People visit that trail this time of year to enjoy the profuse purple blooms and they could enjoy them all a lot longer if you don't act like those flowers are there just for you.



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