Ed opposes using the Permanent Fund to fill the budget deficit. Ed understands that using the PFD is the most regressive and harmful income tax that could possibly be enacted on working class Alaskan families, taking a much larger share of our income than other forms of taxation. Ed supports reforming oil taxation, by ending Alaska’s failed experiment with an Oil Profit Tax scheme (the only one of its kind in the country) and returning to a set Oil Production Tax that served our state well for decades. He supports ending the 0% tax on new field production. He supports ending all oil tax credits for exploration.
He supports a property tax deduction for any proposed income tax. By enacting a property tax deduction we can increase the taxable burden on non-Alaskans who only come here for work and take advantage of our infrastructure without contributing. He supports a seasonal bed tax for all hotels and vessels that enter Alaskan waters. We welcome our visitors from across the globe but the strain of guests on our infrastructure has to be accounted for, planned for, and paid for, and a bed tax can help us achieve that end.
Ed is a big supporter of education, and understands that a quality education is an economic engine that Alaska, and Alaskans, need. Ed supports students, teachers, parents and communities’ efforts to improve community schools. Ed supports the efforts of the Alaska Education Challenge and all of the reforms proposed therein thus far, but goes further in advocating that the accountability system in State education needs to change. School climate should be an accountability measure, for too long we’ve only judged our schools based on misguided standardized assessments. School climate can and should be a critical indicator for how we understand our schools. Student voices and community voices need to play a stronger role in how we understand and manage schools and school climate surveying will help with that effort. We need to give additional support to teachers as well, which is why Ed supports returning our teachers to a defined benefit retirement system, and will look to additional incentives for educators. Additionally Ed feels strongly that serving on School Boards is an honor and a privilege and will sponsor legislation ending expensive special benefits for school boards, such as health insurance and exorbitant meeting fees, and return those dollars to the classroom where they are needed.
Ed supports single payer health care as a moral position, and understands that single payer health care would have significant benefits for workers, employers and business owners across Alaska. No Alaskan should be denied access to medical care and we should, as a state, move forward with formalizing a position in support of Medicare for All. Ed supports forming a commission to review the Denali Kid Care program and look towards expanding this critical program for mothers and children to all Alaskan children and mothers. Ed supports efforts to increase the number of health care workers to prepare Alaska for the increasing demand on our systems as our population ages.
Ed supports a gradual rise in the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour to increase Alaskans buying power and increase the buying power of the Alaskan middle class, “a rising tide floats all boats”. Ed supports a living wage, a family should be able to earn enough by working a job, not having each earner working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Ed will support legislation mandating paid maternity and paternity leave for Alaskan workers. There are far too many women in Alaska who have to go back to work immediately after giving birth, and husbands who are not given any time to offer support. We’ve seen the social strain these policies create on Alaska’s families and its time for that strain to end. In order to meet the needs of our work force Alaska should look toward supporting a K-16 public education option, with increased opportunities for Alaskans to receive vocational training.
We need to insure that our rural, and culturally rural ways of life are encouraged and that policies are put in place to help our ways thrive. We’ve seen the number of outside hunting licenses rise from 15,000 to 25,000 permits, all while our rural families struggle to keep our freezers filled. We need to eliminate hunting and fishing license fees for resident Alaskans who have State Identification, and increase the fees and cap the number of outside hunters coming into stressed areas in Interior Alaska. There needs to be a balance between our visitors and our Alaskans who are living here, and that balance needs to favor Alaskans.
Urban Alaskans don’t understand the many costs that ill-informed policies put on rural Alaskans. Even at death rural Alaskans bodies are shipped to urban areas at great cost, and returned at bankrupting costs to rural villages, creating great strain on our families in our darkest hours. These policies, and so many like this, need to be reviewed and changed to aid our families, not place additional bureaucratic burdens on Alaskans.
Ed supports making the Alaska State Troopers more geographically even across Alaska. The AST is an Alaskan force that should be used to keep all Alaskans safe, and not be utilized to subsidize public safety only in urban Alaska. Too often rural Alaskans have to wait days for State Trooper responses, sometimes even to fatal events in rural villages, both from crime and accidents. This is unacceptable. Troopers should be stationed in village communities far, far more frequently, and given the tools they need to travel to each other to offer support and back up. Our rural villages should not be treated like 2nd class Alaskans, they should get 1st class Alaskan State Troopers like other communities. Just to the east, in the Yukon Territory, we see how successful a geographically diverse Royal Canadian Mounted Police operates with its rural citizenry. We can do just as well, if not better, with our Troopers.
Ed supports a shift to renewable energy generation. We can add incentives to the Power Cost Equalization program to promote a shift to renewable energies for our communities. We can lower the cost of electricity produced, while saving money for our rural communities, and we will stimulate the economy when we make those changes. A program like this will spur construction across the state, lowering our unemployment rate, while getting Alaskans to work on needed infrastructure.
He also supports developing Liquid Natural Gas and an All-Alaska Gas Line. Ed opposes opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration due to its impacts on the Gwich’in people, and for National Security reasons. The Arctic Refuge should be preserved, and any oil contained there should be stored except for potential use in a National Security Emergency, such as in a Congressional Declaration of War. Ed supports requesting an extension of renewable energy tax credits for homeowners.