We don't always agree with Gregg Erickson, but we certainly do on this piece. "Focus on Alaska budget misses the point," https://goo.gl/El859M.

"Spending state reserves has slowed the loss of jobs and population, but the Great Alaska Recession is truly upon us and continues to deepen. Extracting a piece of the Permanent Fund dividend from household income has accelerated the recession in the worst possible way. As a University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research analysis explained last year, extracting the money in any alternative would have produced less drag on the economy, and less human misery.

Absent some totally unexpected event, Alaska's population and employment will shrink and eventually stabilize at a level much below what it is today. There is almost no public discussion about, or planning for, this smaller Alaska."

Frankly, we think the Alaska Senate Majority is way overplaying its hand in bowing to its donor class and, through the PFD cut, trying to push responsibility for continued government (over)spending entirely onto the backs of a reduced overall Alaska economy (measured by income), a massive increase in poverty levels and a huge increase in income disparity.

Don't believe that is what is going on? Look at the beneficiaries of their proposal: To name a few, higher income Alaskans that avoid paying an income tax (even though many greatly benefit from government spending), tourism companies that avoid the impact of a sales tax, subsidy-dependent oil companies (and their just as responsible suppliers) wanting to continue state cash injections with no return of or on the so-called "investment" in sight, and a construction industry built on the bubble of excess government spending that, as current projects finish, want the "good times" to continue (remember, there is no cap on capital spending in SB 70, which is the loophole through which the Majority likely intends to drive a Mack truck worth of spending goodies).

At what cost? As Gregg correctly points out, at the cost of "accelerat[ing] the recession in the worst possible way."

Frankly, we believe as the Senate pushes this forward and the situation unfolds, the reason and consequences will become more and more clear, and will come back to haunt not only those same R's in the next election cycle (or as some try to run for Governor), but frankly also the state's oil and other high-profile industries as affected Alaskans start looking for scapegoats.

Certainly, we will be campaigning hard on those issues and calling out those responsible for the then-unfolding mess. In doing so we also will be trying hard to avoid Alaska cutting off its nose to spite its face (by overswinging the pendulum against industry in a way that undermines investment), but if this situation becomes as bad as Gregg -- and increasingly, we -- are concerned it will, it will be very hard to calibrate the response properly.

Ironically, many in the Alaska Senate Majority were responsible for getting the state into this situation in the first place, when they continued overspending despite the clear signs as far back as 2011 about where this was leading the state. Now, they are about to push Alaskans even deeper into the abyss by failing to curb their efforts even as the ship is fast taking on water.

There are ways out of this, the Hammond 50/50 approach is one, but just as our leaders put the best options behind us when they failed to curb spending and increase reserves from 2010 on, they are in the process of putting even these next best solutions behind us as they try to keep the party going for awhile longer. They say "the numbers don't work"? Well, they may not work for their donor class, but they do for the overall Alaska economy and the Alaskans caught up in that.

Gregg's commentary is a wake up call to Alaskans and, we submit, should be as well for those in the oil and the state's other industries. You have a stake in this ending correctly. Don't let the opportunity pass you by. If Gregg is correct -- and as we said above, we increasingly believe he is -- the consequences won't be helpful.
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