I am disappointed that our esteemed publisher, Don Smith, insists on taking such a simplistic view of politics and economics. For two Sundays in a row he irresponsibly blames our economic stagnation on the Knowles-Ulmer Administration. The governor could only propose a budget with economic policies, the Legislature then slashed the budget to fit their partisan views and the final gut-cutting product reared its ugly head every May.
Mr. Smith could have done a little more research by simply walking over and chatting with neighbor Commissioner Perkins at DOT&PF. He would discover DOT&PF had not been able to fill several DOT engineer positions for three years. The Juneau Economic Development Council's Report just confirms why. Qualified Alaska workers are getting better wages and benefits outside the state. It takes more than a governor to move Alaska out of economic stagnation. In its misguided attempts to cut the budget, our Republican majority brought our state to its knees, with tax breaks to the oil industry and corporations, fighting the minimum wage increase to Alaskans and allowing public employee wages to drop10 percent due to inflation. The working middle-class Alaskan is becoming an endangered species.
Our economy is much like bull riding. To claim the bull rider was in total control of the bull is just as ludicrous as claiming the Knowles-Ulmer administration is to blame for our current economic state. Our out-of-control, unruly bull has been the price of oil and our Republican-controlled Legislature. It is unfortunate that our current Republican legislators were not willing to sacrifice partisan politics for the betterment of Alaska. There are aspects of our economy that we are unable to control but the Legislature is part of that bucking bull we can influence.
All a bull rider can do is react and position themselves and hold on for as long as they can with style. If anyone is to blame for our economic stagnation it is the bull, not the rider.