Holds Key Chairmanships on Two Committees
The Parnell-Treadwell administration and their legislative allies succeeded in passing SB 21, which is creating massive budget deficits that threaten Alaska's economic health.
Alaska Democratic Party
Alaska Democratic Party endorses Senator Begich
On May 4th, the Alaska Democratic Party's State Central Committee voted unanimously to endorse Senator Mark Begich for re-election. Alaska Democrats' Chair Mike Wenstrup sent the following letter to party activists explaining why this election is so important and why Alaska Democrats chose to endorse early in this election cycle:
This weekend the Alaska Democratic Party’s Executive Committee and State Central Committee voted unanimously to endorse Senator Begich for re-election. We aren’t just trying to defend a Democratic Senate seat: We are fighting for Alaska sovereignty and self-determination.
While Parnell-Treadwell Republicans oppose civil rights for gays and lesbians, Mark Begich helped repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and supports marriage equality.
While the Parnell-Treadwell administration has liquidated our resources with the oil giveaway and legislation which degrades Alaska fisheries, Mark Begich has been the Senate leader to stop Frankenfish and defend our resources.
While Parnell-Treadwell Republicans have cut classroom funding and attempted to replace our public education system with vouchers, Senator Begich has a perfect voting record on public education, including opposition to vouchers, and has rejected “teach to the test” systems like No Child Left Behind.
While the Parnell-Treadwell administration and state Republican majority have attempted to define “medically necessary” abortions with SB 49, Senator Begich always has stood up for women’s right to choose, consistent with the Alaska Constitution.
While the Parnell-Treadwell administration shut down the Sub-Cabinet on Climate Change and have denied climate science, Senator Begich consistently has supported efforts to understand, mitigate, and adapt to climate change in a manner that protects Alaska’s interests.
While the Parnell-Treadwell Administration has attempted to grease the skids for Pebble Mine, Mark Begich has said that science should inform permitting decisions and has rejected Parnell-Treadwell attempts to cut the federal government out of the process.
While the Parnell-Treadwell Administration has litigated against the Voting Rights Act, eliminated early voting and closed polling places in rural communities, Mark Begich has supported the Voting Rights Act and introduced legislation to extend Violence Against Women Act protections to Alaska Native communities.
While the Parnell-Treadwell Administration rejected Medicaid for 40,000 Alaskans, Mark Begich voted for the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare and has worked to lower health care costs for Alaskans. The Affordable Care Act not only will provide health insurance for millions of Americans but also is the single most important vote Congress has taken to reduce the federal deficit.
We face a simple choice in 2014, both with Senator Begich’s re-election and with state races. Do we control our resources, or do we hand them over to Outside interests? Do we protect Alaskans’ voting rights or take them away from the first Alaskans? Do we give Alaskans the chance to purchase affordable health insurance or give up control to Outside insurance companies? Do we bend the arc of history a little closer toward justice or allow reactionaries to delay realization of marriage equality? Do we invest in public education or give away public money to unaccountable, private, for-profit schools?
The 2014 election will determine the balance of the US Senate and Alaska’s power of self-determination. Alaska Democrats support the principles enshrined in our national and state Constitutions: protection of personal privacy and investment in education and economic development. Mark Begich doesn’t always vote the national party line, but he always reflects our Alaska values and has built up clout in the Senate to protect our values. We need his strong voice in Washington for another six years.
For the next 545 days the Alaska Democratic Party will be working to elect Democrats up and down the ticket, and we’re proud to support Mark Begich. He was there for us when he voted for the Affordable Care Act, the most important progressive legislation since passage of Medicare. Stand with us as we build a campaign to win in 2014.
Chair, Alaska Democratic Party
Thank you for voting in the Anchorage Municipal Election
Thank you to everyone who voted in the Anchorage Assembly and School Board races on April 2nd. Thanks to you, the more progressive candidates won in every race except in one that is too close to call.
Progressive candidates who won:
Tim Steele beat incumbent Cheryl Frasca for West Anchorage Assembly. Cheryl Frasca had help with endorsements and fundraising from Mayor Dan Sullivan, Senator Lisa Murkowski, and Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, and with insider connections raised significantly more money than Steele. However, that establishment support could not overcome popular opposition to the policies that she supported.
Bettye Davis, former Democratic State Senator, beat incumbent Don Smith for at-large School Board.
Eric Croft, former Democratic State Representative, beat two other candidates for the other at-large School Board seat on the ballot.
Dick Traini, incumbent Assembly member from Midtown, beat Andy Clary. Although Traini has run as a Republican in the past, recently he has worked with progressives on the Assembly. Traini opposed Sullivan's Assembly Ordinance 37 and opposed Sullivan/Frasca/Hall efforts to shut down public testimony.
There are still ballots outstanding in the race where Nick Moe ran as a write-in candidate against Ernie Hall, and the two candidates appear to be separated by fewer than 100 votes. Nick Moe only announced his write-in campaign two weeks before the election, and his strong showing is a testament to public opposition to Sullivan's agenda.
Mayor Dan Sullivan has been the driving force behind the secret drafting of Assembly Ordinance 37 and the weakening of Title 21. Sullivan opposed the candidacies of Steele, Traini, and Moe.
SB 21 passes Senate
On March 20th, 11 Alaska Senators voted to sink Alaska’s future by giving Governor Parnell and his old friends in the oil industry a larger share of our wealth with nothing but empty promises in return. Senate Bill 21 only passed because two ConocoPhillips employees, Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage) and Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna), were allowed to vote for the bill despite their clear conflict of interest. Other Senators supporting SB 21 were Click Bishop, Pete Kelly, John Coghill, Charlie Huggins, Mike Dunleavy, Lesil McGuire, Anna Fairclough, and Cathy Giessel.
SB 21 eliminates the progressive price structure of Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES), which has been in place since 2007. Those progressive taxes have provided $15 billion in additional revenue to Alaskans, which has been used to pay off old debts, save $12 billion in the Constitutional and statutory budget reserve, and make large investments in capital projects. During that period, we have seen oil exploration, oil sector capital investment, and oil sector employment grow substantially. The legislature threw this out for nothing in return.
SB 21 doesn’t guarantee a drop of new oil in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Senator Kevin Meyer, who works for ConocoPhillips, said the bill was a “crapshoot” when it came to new oil production. In testimony before the legislature, industry representatives said they couldn’t commit to a single new project as a result of SB 21. Never in Alaska history has the legislature stolen so much money from the public for so little in return.
Under Alaska’s Constitution and the terms of statehood, the public owns resources like oil and the legislature is mandated by Article VIII Section 2 to ensure “maximum benefit” for the public from resource extraction. SB 21 violates this Constitutional principle and is a knife in the heart of Owner State principles.
Our Democratic legislators fought tooth and nail against this giveaway. Senators Ellis, Hoffman, Wielechowski, French, Olson, Egan and Gardner not only voted against the bill but offered targeted amendments and impassioned speeches in defense of our oil wealth. Republican Senators Stedman and Stevens joined them in opposing SB 21.
Passage of SB 21 inaugurates a new era for the Alaska State legislature. Eliminating some 10% of state revenue will deepen an existing deficit and force deep budget cuts. In order to offset the revenue lost through SB 21, the legislature would have to eliminate all state transportation spending or all state education spending. Since the Republican legislature has made it clear they do not intend to replace lost revenue, deep cuts are on the way, as well as deficits which will threaten our states long-term fiscal solvency. Sean Parnell will go down as the most reckless fiscal manager in Alaska history, but Alaska residents are the victims of his profligacy.
Parnell and his former employers in the oil industry, tired of having a Bipartisan Senate ask questions about his proposed oil giveaways, pushed an unconstitutional redistricting map that resulted in a pliant legislature.
While giveaway advocates have cleared a major hurdle, this bill is not a done deal. It still must pass the House, and if the House changes it will need to be re-passed by the Senate. It is imperative that we all continue to make our voices heard in opposition to SB 21. Click here and call your legislator now.
We can’t stop here. SB 21 and bills like it will continue to threaten Alaska’s Constitution and our way of life until we have a new legislative majority and a new Governor. If you’re outraged, do something about it by volunteering, contributing or running for office. We can’t afford another four years of state control by legislators who are stealing from the public and giving our resource wealth to their own companies.