Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sarah's lackluster legislative session

Governor Sarah Palin's third legislative session has ended. Her disputes with the legislature kept things interesting, but non-productive. Juneau still does not have a replacement for Sen. Kim Elton, who resigned to take a position with the Obama Administration. The governor still does not have a solution for ameiorating the coming crisis regarding south central's declining natural gas supply.
Gov. Palin has once again nominated former Sen. Tim Grussendorf to replace Elton. This choice was rejected by the democrats and will be rejected once again. This situation is not of the Governor's making. The democrats had the responsibility to provide the governor with three names, instead, they have continually promoted Rep. Bev Kertulla.
Kertulla's family has long been involved in Alaska's Legislature. Her father, former Sen. Jalmar Kertulla is a former senator and representative from the Palmer side of the Matanuska Valley where I live. Appointing Rep. Beverly Kertulla would then create another vacancy that would reset the controversy back to square one with the need to appoint a replacement for her seat.
I can understand why Sarah Palin would want to avoid creating another vacancy by filling the current senate vacancy with a sitting represnative.
Given the conduct of the democrats, Juneau cannot blame the vacancy on the governor.
The real disappointment is the failure for the Legislature and the Governor to devote the time and effort necessary to evaluate and to reach a consensus to head off the specter of the State of Alaska, with 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves proven and estimated, having to suffer the situaiton of having to import natural gas at the LNG port facility at Nikkiski.
At present, the Nikkiski facility exports natural gas to Japan. However, the facility will be converted into a receiving trane in 2012 unless sufficient production can be achieved through additional exploration in Cook Inlet's gas fields.
The difference in philosophy betwee the Governor and the Legislature continues unresolved regarding the so called stimulus funds. Palin does not want to further encumber the State with expanded federal programs under this package that would reqauire the State to continue that expansion at its own expense once the federal funds are expended. The dems and some republicans in the Legislature want all of the money, irrespective of the final cost to the State.
One area of disagreement is the impact upon education funding. Gov. Palin wants the federal stimulus funds to replace State funds proposed the same purpose. The Legislature want their cake and eat it too by adding the federal funds to the State monies in the budget.
Apparently, Alaska's Legislature, and yes, the Governor too, forget that monies in the stimulus will need to be repaid and the bill in the form of inflation has yet to be totaled. Our kids and their kids will repay the Obama Administration's excess.
The Governor has a problem on the North Slope that must be addressed in the form of additional oversight over BP's transport pipe infrastructure. This system has failed not less than 3 times in the last three years resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost production due to a failure to maintain the pipe. Todd Palin works for BP, which makes me wonder if Sarah is not coming down on BP has hard as she should, because of his job situation?
AGIA still has not produced a start date for construction of a natural gas pipeline. This is a situation that is of concern, as Alaska will lag on the impact of the recession for another 6 months or so. Alaska's economic cycle is usually contra-cyclical to that of the lower 48 States.
The only real impact of Sarah Palin's Administration to date has been to provide a spectacle over the pregancy of the oldest daughter and her boyfriend being kicked out of the Palin fold, the spectacle of the Governor's office officials incompetence creating Troopergate. Otherwise, Sarah has managed to outspend her predecessors of both parties.
I am still hoping that the fiscal conservative will show her head and begin the process of cutting back Alaska's bloated and outrageously expensive State government. However, that person may not be Sarah Palin. The Sarah Palin in the office of the Governor of the State of Alaska is not the person we elected.
Alaska is facing the impact of the economic meltdown that is still coming in spite of the spin put on the situation by the Obama Administration and the fools in the Congress. Spending one's way to prosperity does not work and will not work to cure the ils of overspending, bad management, and stupidity on the part of elected officials opening the doors to housing locans loans to people who could not possibily pay them back.
For the first time since the program's inception, the decision to end the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Program may have to be made for economic reasons.
We cannot keep spending like drunken sailors and expect to continue to receive the largess of the oil production in the face of a production that is steadily declining, is interrupted by BP's leaking transportation pipe infrastructure, and uncertain oil prices and a Legislature and a Governor who are all too willing to try to outspend each other.
Note: I am still on a project in Canada and will try to update as time allows. My apologies the lack of regular posts.--LDW

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