Friday, June 26, 2015

Alaska; a time of disruption, opportunity and leadership

Deborah Brollini
Alaska Energy Dudes and Divas

Alaska has been turned upside down due to low oil prices. June 20th, 2015 marked the 38-year anniversary of first oil through the Trans Alaska Pipeline (TAPS). For 38 years Alaska has never been able to control global oil prices, and lately our spending.  Our state’s financial house has been disrupted, and we can either play the blame game, or embrace opportunity.  I choose the latter.  I personally do not believe the sky is falling despite low oil prices. However, some do.

Alaska has gotten herself into a real financial pickle. So what are we going to do about it? The legislature is the appropriating body. However, what we need is a Governor who will lead, and do the heavy lifting in regards to state budget cuts because we are alaska.gov, not non-profit.alaska.org.  On July 1, 2015, Governor Bill Walker should of released a 2017 proposed operating budget that is unapologetic in regards to budget cuts, and let the public digest it.

I would never expect the Governor to release a budget that would gut the state, because we do not want to tank Alaska’s economy. But, a budget that included substantial budget cuts to control spending, and restore the trust with Alaska's stakeholders, and constituencies.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure the Governor is up for challenge.

It would seem that the Governor would rather sit around and chat about our fiscal problems than lead e.g. Building a Sustainable Future: Conversations with Alaskans conference, cute fiscal budget game apps, and townhalls with folks breathing the same air who want to raise tax revenue.  Alaska needs leadership not groupthink

Alaska is a wealthy state that is reliant on oil taxes to fund our state government. Hardly a strategy with oil production dipping to less that 500,000 barrels per day in the near term, with 730,000 livelihoods at stake. What we need is a strategic plan, not an increase in oil taxes or the implementation of a state sales tax, or income tax.  The Governor needs to quit being scared of his own shadow, cut the budget, and most importantly lead.

I get the Governor did not create this fiscal mess. But, the fiscal mess is now on his watch. If Bill Walker is not careful, his legacy as the Governor of the state of Alaska will be the Governor who "woulda, coulda, shoulda."

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Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN speaks with Stanford MBAs about disruption, trust, engaging and inspiring constituencies, and leadership.  Outstanding talk.