Eduardo Gomez/Staff Writer
One of the biggest concerns I have as a 17-year old is how I will pay for college. Though it’s tempting to count on the Alaska Permanent Fund to be there to help, I don’t expect it will be and I don’t think it should be.
The state of Alaska is unique in the way that we pay for state expenditures. Alaska historically has paid for most of the state government with surplus oil revenues. The problem is that this cannot continue, the era where we can rely on oil to pay for the majority of state government is coming to an end.
According to Gunnar Knapp, an economic professor at UAA, There are two major reasons for this, first, oil prices have dropped 75% since 1988, and the other reason is North Slope Oil production has declined as much as 75% in the past 25 years and is projected to decline even further.
With this drastic change in oil revenue, Alaska is struggling to break even with it’s spending, which is forcing Alaska to be in a $900 million deficit annually. As a result of this deficit, Alaska is forced to cut state spending to a bare minimum, for example, in 2014, Alaska cut its state spending by a whopping 44% or $1.7 billion dollars.
More decrease to state spending would mean hurting our schools, harming the people that keep our roads and airports running, and our ability to fund troopers. Additional cuts would mean removing the things that keep businesses and workers invested in Alaska.
Additionally, the PFD is $680 million dollars that is spent by the state government, so if we cut the PFD, it would help solve most of the deficit problem, and it could be put to great use within state spending.
Think locally for a second, Southeast Alaska has seen plenty of these effects. Our island to island ferry system, which is a huge part of people’s way of life has been drastically affected in recent years. Our southeast fisheries have felt some of these cuts in the form of the Department of Fish and Game receiving major cuts in funding. Many things that provide essential services have been negatively affected by cutting government funding in an attempt to keep a PFD.
Although I am personally greatly benefited by the PFD, I acknowledge that we must see the bigger picture in regards to the state as a whole, where the harms vastly outweigh the benefits, which leads me to believe that we should eliminate the PFD.