New ISER publication: 'An Introduction to Alaska Fiscal Facts and Choices'
by Michelle Saport |
Gunnar Knapp, ISER's director, was the opening speaker at Governor Walker's conference, "Building a Sustainable Future: Conversation with Alaskans," held June 5-7 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Two former ISER directors, Vic Fischer and Scott Goldsmith, also took part in the conference, which brought together Alaskans from around the state to discuss Alaska's fiscal future. The conference was held at a time when a sudden drop in oil prices has slashed state oil revenues and left the budget for the coming year several billion dollars in the red.
Oil revenues have largely funded state government for more than 30 years. Knapp's presentation to the conference, An Introduction to Alaska Fiscal Facts and Choices, summarizes the fundamental fiscal problem the state government faces over time: "Alaska oil production is falling and our population is rising. It is hard for falling oil production to support most of state government for a growing population."
The presentation goes on to describe the fiscal realities and choices for Alaskans:
- Unless oil prices rise dramatically and unexpectedly, we won't have enough money to continue spending at fiscal year 2016 levels with only current revenues and savings, which can't sustain multi-billion dollar draws for very long.
- We will have to adjust our spending, or how we pay for it. Our only significant and practical options are: cut spending more, raise new revenues or use part of Permanent Fund earnings.
As Knapp points out, "None of these options are easy or popular" and "our choices will affect not just ourselves but future Alaskans."
ISER publications are solely the work of individual authors and should be attributed to them, not to ISER, the University of Alaska Anchorage or the research sponsors.