“Shall the State of Alaska issue its general obligation bonds in the principal amount of not more than $453,499,200 for the purpose of paying the cost of state transportation projects?”We suggested a "No" vote because, combined with the record level of capital spending already approved in this year's state budget, the additional spending proposed by the Bond Proposition is way beyond sustainable spending levels and just too much.
For those reading this column for the first time it is worth mentioning that, according to a recent national study, Alaska currently leads the nation in debt per capita. At a state government debt level of $31,141 per resident, Alaska far outstrips even California, which for all of its faults, carries a state government debt load of only $16,386 per resident.
Bonding Proposition A proposes to add roughly another $625 per Alaskan on top of that, bringing the total debt total to over $31,750 per Alaskan.
While we took some flack for the position, we stood behind it and, in early voting last week, put our vote where our pen was.
Now, for those reading this piece that have not yet voted, this morning's papers bring another reason to vote No.
This morning, the Anchorage Daily News reported that
A federal agency says a new, still-unreleased study examining the troubled Port of Anchorage expansion project suggests that it shouldn't go forward as designed ....The largest item in the Bond Proposition -- totaling $50 million, or over 10% of the bond issue -- is for the Port of Anchorage. Voters cannot vote yes on some pieces and no on others; all of the spending is tied together.
When asked to comment on the report on the port, Anchorage Councilman Patrick Flynn said, "If that is in fact the case, that means there's a lot of rethinking to do about the project."
Flynn is right, there is a lot of rethinking to do about the project. Even if everything else about the Bond Proposition was good -- which it is not -- this development alone would justify a No vote. Until that rethinking is done and a clear way forward identified, no further spending -- especially spending that increases Alaska's already staggering per capita debt -- should be authorized.
Bonding Proposition A -- Too Much; Unsustainable; Wrong Time. Vote No.