Monthly Archives: July 2008

Energy Policy: The Appearance of Reasoned Substance

Gas flare from an oil refinery.Image via Wikipedia

In the July 25, 2008 issue of Senator Elton’s off the record, he expresses his dissatisfaction with the Governor’s energy bills:

The gasline rhetoric unfortunately obscures the rest of this special session’s agenda–energy. The energy bills include: the governor’s $1,200 cash payout; and the governor’s proposed suspension of the state’s motor fuel tax.  To spare anyone the pain of reading all the way to the bottom of this newsletter to get my reaction to the governor’s energy lynchpins, I’ll be upfront. In my considered, calm and nonjudgmental opinion, these two bills have all the nutrition of bon-bons.

He poses as alternatives this set of suggested policies, which do have, in my humble opinion, the appearance of reasoned substance.  Would you agree? Read the rest of this entry

Policy Research Before the Vote: Curiously Refreshing

Alaska State CapitolImage via Wikipedia

Elected officials have the collective ability to ram through public policies for whatever reason they may have.  Maybe it appeases a particular voting block.  Maybe it will be looked upon favorably by a lobbyist and his or her deep pocket employers.  Maybe the legislator has been bribed to “produce results.”  Maybe it looms large in the eyes of the legislator because it is in response to a neighbor’s experience or a family members tragedy.

As voters and members of Alaskan society, however, we may have other lenses through which we view these proposals for public policy.  For example, does a public policy benefit low- and medium-income families in Alaska?  Does it actually address the problem effectively and efficiently that it is supposed to address?  Have other policy alternatives been systematically considered and evaluated?  Will this public policy have unintended consequences?  Is there any research data that will help our evaluation? Read the rest of this entry

How Vulnerable is Alaska's Economy to Reduced Federal Spending?

{{w|Ted Stevens}}, United States Senator. Offi...Image via WikipediaThe University of Alaska Anchorage Institute for Social and Economic Analysis (ISER) is a real powerhouse in terms of regularly generating important new Research with implications for public policy in Alaska. The latest is Research Matters No. 35. How Vulnerable is Alaska’s Economy to Reduced Federal Spending? An excerpt from a recent ISER communication summarizes this research:

The federal government spent $9.25 billion in Alaska in 2006, and about a third of all jobs in Alaska can be traced, in one way or another, to that spending. Big increases in federal spending drove much of the economic growth in Alaska over the past decade. But now federal spending has stopped growing, and many Alaskans are worried that Alaska is vulnerable to cuts in spending, as the federal budget tightens. Read the rest of this entry

More Poverty Nationwide and In Alaska Than Previously Thought

The National Center for Children in Poverty is associated with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Just last month (June 2008) the Center released an important new report, Measuring Poverty in the United States. The report found that:

Across the country, families typically need an income of at least twice the official poverty level ($42,400 for a family of four) to meet basic needs. In high-cost cities such as New York, it may take an income of over three times the poverty level to make ends meet, whereas in some rural areas, the figure may be under double the poverty level

The findings are particularly important for Alaska which is a “high-cost” area to live. Read the rest of this entry

Alaska I Vote, I Count Campaign

The following has been excerpted from a communication sent by Kathleen Fitzgerald, Coordinator- Partners in Policymaking, and from the Partners in Policymaking web site:

Partners in Policymaking is a national model of advocacy and leadership training. Alaska’s Partners in Policymaking Program is funded through the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and has been designed for Trust beneficiaries and their families. This project identifies individuals from around the state who have not held a leadership position and helps them develop advocacy and leadership skills to improve the lives of Trust beneficiaries. Read the rest of this entry