ANCHORAGE - Republican political advertisements blasting Fran Ulmer for actions as a legislator distort her record and attempt to mislead voters, Ulmer said Monday.
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Ulmer, the Democratic nominee for governor, said the ads are designed to distract voters from a central issue of the campaign - the gap between state earnings and spending.
"It's the red-herring approach. You get people to look at the red herring instead of the reality of what isn't being said by Sen. (Frank) Murkowski," Ulmer said.
The refusal by Murkowski, the Republican nominee, to say how he would fill the fiscal gap leads Ulmer to conclude he will use permanent fund earnings to do so, she said.
Murkowski spokesman Dan Saddler denied that Republican ads distort Ulmer's record. He said Ulmer has been saturating the air with attack ads for weeks, trying to scare people into believing their dividends are at risk.
"For her to complain about ads that point out her record on the permanent fund is ironic, to say the least," Saddler said.
One ad claims Ulmer sponsored a measure 14 years ago to spend Alaska Permanent Fund earnings. Ulmer said the measure, co-sponsored with Republican Bill Hudson of Juneau, would have protected the dividend program by not allowing the Legislature to spend earnings without a vote of the people and by putting the dividend program into the Alaska Constitution.
Another ad, Ulmer said, distorts a bill introducing an income tax in 1989 when the state faced a recession and a huge budget shortfall. The ad contends a host of reasonable deductions would have been excluded.
Ulmer said instead of listing specific deductions, the measure would have allowed across-the-board deductions for every Alaskan, plus credits for sales taxes and property taxes paid by home owners, landlords and renters.
The legislation was simple, easy to understand, and easier on Alaskans than nonresidents who earn money here, she said.
Both measures would have required voter approval.
"This is the principle that I have constantly supported, that whatever we do, we must require a vote of the people," she said.
Ulmer, Alaska's lieutenant governor, called the measures "ancient history."
"I don't think a bill that we talked about back in the 1980s, when we really were in a very precarious position financially, and didn't have a CBR (Constitutional Budget Reserve) is really what this campaign ought to be about," she said. "What this campaign really ought to be about is the future, not the past."
Ulmer appeared at a press conference with former Gov. Jay Hammond, a Republican serving as honorary co-chairman of Ulmer's election campaign. He said inconsistent statements from the Murkowski supporters are almost laughable.
They condemn Ulmer for unfavorable actions during the Tony Knowles administration, where she serves as lieutenant governor, but give her no credit for favorable actions for her work when he was governor, Hammond said.
"Truth be told, no member of my administration played a greater role in helping me fashion the dividend program than did my director of policy development and planning, Fran Ulmer," Hammond said.
Ulmer's proposal for the fiscal gap is a "parachute plan." The plan calls for new tax measures, to be determined with legislators, to kick in if the state's main savings account, the Constitutional Budget Reserve, falls below $1 billion.
Murkowski's fiscal plan calls for controlling state spending, jettisoning ineffective programs, stabilizing short-term revenue, and managing Alaska resources better to develop new revenue.
Without a plan for the fiscal gap, Hammond said, legislators probably will do nothing.
"If that occurs, you're going to have imposed upon you the worst of all possible taxes, the loss of your dividend," Hammond said.