Alaska's Constitution provides the framework that has made our PFD program into what it is today, but some of the details governing it are in statute, not the Constitution. I believe that we have an obligation to follow the statutory law, or we need to change the law. The PFD belongs to the people, and we cannot continue to operate by ignoring statutes that are on the books. Many people present the PFD and adequate funding for vital services debate as an either or proposition. This is a false dichotomoy. We can do both. There are more than two options. We need leadership that can balance our budget without using the PFD.
For the past several years, passing a budget has held up progress on too many things. We need leadership that will prioritize the budget, work to get it done on time, and do so while preserving the rights of every citizen of our state. Alaska is rich in natural resources. These resources will always be part of our heritage; however, we need to diversify our revenue if we are going to provide stability for our future. We cannot rely solely on oil for our future. I feel that a state wide sales tax is the most fair way to move our state forward and provide for continued economic growth and stability in the services our state government provides.
Travel and connectivity are of vital importance to Alaska. How do we get resources to market, provide opportunities for our children, ensure access to health care, and bring needed commodities into our communities? Roads, boats, and planes. We all understand the vulnerability that is inherent in Alaska's geographical isolation. We are one fire, earthquake, or volcanic eruption away from isolation; continued investment in maintaining and improving our infrastructure is paramount to the future of Alaska's security and economy.
Public school, and access to the oppotrunities it provides, are among the principal responsibilities of our government. Article VII of our Consitution is clear that education and public welfare are to be provided for by the state. Alaska faces unique challenges. We need to examine education without partisanship, involving all stake holders, and look beyond test scores, to find solutions that will work for us. We need to be innovative in finding solutions to problems that are unique to our state. There are also some issues we face that are not unique to Alaska. We need to learn from others who are having success facing similar problems. Stability, leadership, and making decisions with an eye toward long term solutions are required if we are going to improve opportunities for our students. As both a career educator and a business owner, you can count on me to both prioritize education and to provide leadership that expects results. We must invest in the people that are the future of Alaska.
Crime rates in Alaska are among the highest in the nation year after year. Murder, assault, rape, domestic violence, drugs, theft, etc. are all huge problems. On average, there is a burglery every 2 hours and a rape every 8 hours in Alaska. This is unacceptable. What do we do about it? What will it take to bring about change? Investing in education helps. Supporting law enforcement helps. We need more. We need leadership that will bring together law enforcement, community leaders, and other stakeholders to identify strategies to deter criminality. This is possible. What we are doing is not enough. We need to help people avoid drugs, find treatment for addictions, get treatment for mental health issues, and get criminals off the streets.
In Alaska natural resources are abundant and have been the economic engine of our economy for generations. The hard work and commitment of Alaskans have built communities and opportunities that promise a bright and prosperous future. Investment in the future requires allocation of finances, resources, and time. We need to foster an economy that will keep talented, hard working people in Alaska and at work. Uncertainty and fear discourage investment and economic development. Stability in our government, our budgeting, our schools, and our commitment to infrastructure, are key to fostering an atmosphere in which people are confident investing in the future economy of Alaska. We need state leaders that are commited to finding solutions to provide stability, thus inviting others to responsibly develop economic opportunities in Alaska.
Keeping our Promises
We the people of Alaska, owe a debt of gratitude, towards those that built our state. The elders and elderly in our communities, through their sacrifice, vision, and hard work, have provided a foundation that allows us to work, live, and prosper in this great land. We must honor our promises and commitments to these pioneers. I am committed to keeping the promises and obligations we have taken upon us to those that depend on Alaska for their living and retirement.