September 05, 2002
"We have the tools to build our future prosperity and balance the budget," Ulmer said. "What we need is straight talk and courage to act."
Ulmer said her approach to raise new revenues, if needed, would follow the idea advocated by former Governor Jay Hammond and coined "The Parachute Plan." Ulmer said she would work with the Legislature and prioritize new revenue options that would be triggered if the Constitutional Budget Reserve dropped below $1 billion. Whatever option the Legislature deemed least offensive would kick in first and proceed to the most offensive. Once the CBR rose above the $1 billion mark the revenue measures would be suspended.
According to the Ulmer campiagn, the plan would provide the flexibility needed to account for the state's variable revenue outlook. If oil prices rise, if ANWR is developed, or if the natural gas pipeline is constructed, the "parachute" may not have to be deployed. If the Legislature significantly cuts the budget, the "parachute" may not have to be deployed. Ulmer called her plan a contingency that would protect the permanent fund and Alaska's economy from collapse.
"If the Constitutional Budget Reserve is depleted with no plan in place, the Legislature is left with no option other than an assault on your Permanent Fund dividends," Ulmer said. "That would amount to a flat income tax on Alaskans and only Alaskans and would be the most outrageously regressive tax imaginable. That's why I promise not to allow the Legislature to tap Permanent Fund earnings without a vote of the people."
Ulmer said she wants to assure Alaskans she would enforce strict budget discipline. Ulmer announced she wants a Constitutional spending limit that caps state spending at current levels with the only increases for inflation and population.
"We must be realistic. We must act responsibly," said Ulmer. "To assume we can simply develop our way out of this or rely on unpredictable oil prices to solve our problem is to put the state on a dangerous course toward economic chaos, and could mean the end of the PFD program."
Fran Ulmer said she can't do it alone. Neither can the Legislature. Ulmer said she would work with Republicans and Democrats to confront this challenge together in a renewed spirit of cooperation.
"Our democracy, our economy and our communities depend upon stable, reliable and quality government," Ulmer said. "If we want Alaska to be the best place to live, work and raise a family, we must have a plan to assure these services today and into the future."
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