Senator Berta Gardner

March 27, 2013

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Serving Midtown, Spenard, and UMed

State Capitol Bldg. Rm 417
Juneau, AK 99801
Call Me: 1-800-331-4930

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My Survey Answers

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Senator Gardner is energized by Representative Andy Josephson at the Save Our Schools rally.
Senator Gardner is energized by Representative Andy Josephson at the Save Our Schools rally.

I would like to thank all who fill out my constituent survey. I have read every one and appreciate all the comments. I thought since you gave me all your opinions that I would share mine with you. Below are my answers to the survey in bold and italics. District figures are in red.

  • The oil tax debate is continuing this session in the Legislature. Do you believe oil industry taxes are:

    Too High – 16% Too Low – 22% About Right – 53%

    Our tax regime has brought in a lot of new investment to the North Slope and has protected state budgets.
  • Some have argued that oil taxes should only be lowered for companies that are investing more in Alaska. Which response best reflects your views?

    Lower taxes without conditions – 10%
    Lower taxes in return for more investment in Alaska – 64%
    Do not lower taxes under any circumstances – 22%

    If we do not tie tax breaks to production, ConocoPhillips, BP and Exxon will take their profits from Alaska and invest in other countries. Production before Reduction!

  • The Governor’s current oil tax bill removes all aspects of progressivity. Progressivity is when the producers’ profits increase, Alaska’s share also increases. Under progressivity, producers can reduce their tax rate by investing some of the profits in Alaska. Do you support removing progressivity in the state’s oil tax system?

    The State should keep progressivity – 79%
    The State should remove all aspects of progressivity – 14%

    Progressivity ensures Alaska receives its fair share when profits increase. Progressivity is also a tool that encourages new investment. Every dollar of profit an oil company reinvests in Alaska, their tax rate goes down.
  • Support for a large diameter (48” or bigger) gas pipeline to export our gas is nearly universal. One debate is whether the state should help fund the pipeline. If it makes a difference between building or not building, how much state involvement — meaning state dollars — would you support in a project likely to cost over $40 billion dollars (an amount roughly equal to the current value of the Permanent Fund)?

    Zero – 30% 25%- 31% 50% - 17% 75% - 1% 100% - 2%

    I would support any level of state participation which makes economic sense and makes a gas line actually happen.

  • A project that costs less and could be built faster is a smaller diameter ‘bullet’ line to bring natural gas from the North Slope to the Railbelt. The cost is still substantial — $8 billion or more and could triple gas costs for Anchorage consumers. How should the state go forward to ensure a long term affordable gas supply for Southcentral Alaska?

    Small Diameter Pipe - 15% Large Diameter Pipe – 23%
    Let Private Sector Decide – 27% Other - 13%

    A large diameter pipeline makes the most sense. It will bring the least expensive gas to the railbelt while providing state revenue. A small gasline, as has been proposed, would mean very expensive shipping costs for Anchorage gas consumers and would not bring additional revenue to the state.
  • The Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority (KABATA) is seeking state financial backing for the bridge. The proposal would pledge state funding for as long as necessary if tolls don’t fully cover the cost of building, operating and maintaining the bridge. Do you support or oppose the proposal?

    Support – 14% Oppose – 68% Undecided – 16%

    The numbers are not there to support this bridge and under current proposals the state would be on the hook for millions of dollars to support operations and maintenance. I would rather have that money to provide schools the resources they need.
  • The Susitna Dam, also called Watana Dam, is another energy project on the drawing board. As with other projects, the underlying issue is whether the state should pledge its dollars to construct and operate the dam. What are your views?

    The state should pay for all of the dam – 12%
    The State should pay for half – 21%
    The state shouldn’t pay for any of it – 40%

    I am undecided at this time. We don’t have funds for more than one big ticket project and while I like the idea of using hydro, there are still plenty of valid concerns - including the impact on fish habitat.
  • The state funds education at a certain level per student, called the Base Student Allocation (BSA). With energy prices and the cost of doing business rising, do you support or oppose the inflation proofing of the BSA so that minimum funding is predictable each year?

    Support – 76% Oppose – 16% Undecided – 4%

    Inflation proofing the BSA would ensure funding stays in the classroom. Each year, costs outside the control of schools rise, eating into classroom funding and depriving students of the resources they need. Classroom funding has been flat for three years.
  • School vouchers are a way for parents to take the public funds allocated per student for public schools and instead get a voucher that can be applied to private school tuition. To achieve this goal, we would have to change our state constitution, which prohibits public funds being paid to any “religious or other private educational institution.” (Article 7, Section 1.) Do you support amending the state constitution to allow for school vouchers?

    Yes – 21% No – 74% Undecided – 4%

    I’ll quote a person who attended a recent Education hearing: “Public education is the sandbox in which kids from all backgrounds learn to play and work together. It is fundamental to our democracy.”
  • Alaska is one of the few states in the nation that does not offer universal optional pre-kindergarten. Do you support or oppose making pre-K available on a voluntary basis?

    Support – 68% Oppose – 18% Undecided – 13%

    Studies have shown pre-k is immensely valuable to children, especially those who are “at risk”. A high quality and voluntary pre-k is one tool to help us improve educational outcomes for all students.
  • Do you believe it is possible for the Pebble Mine to be developed without unacceptable risk to the fisheries in Bristol Bay?

    Support – 14% Oppose70% Undecided – 14%

    I will not support trading a world class renewable resource, like our salmon, for a nonrenewable resource. I don’t believe that the world’s largest open pit mine, in an earthquake zone, can be developed without unacceptable risk to Bristol Bay fisheries.

I’m Berta and I’m still listening,

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office

signed: Berta

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