19 January 2007

Where's the cake?

I've written in previous posts that I was a bit dismayed by the lack of specifics in Governor Palin's State of the State address. To wit:

I've included in my budget for support of communities 48 million dollars. That includes the need to balance the high cost of fuel. That is why we also fully fund Power Cost Equalization. The state will also take care of the unexpected PERS and TRS increase that communities face this year.
This is all I heard about revenue-sharing, a fairly important issue to rural Alaska. And yet this brief mention raises more questions than it answers.
  • How is the $48 million going to be distributed? On a per capita basis? Or will there a minimum threshold amount that all communities receive? This is a huge policy decision because it determines if the money goes mostly to property-tax rich urban Alaska or sales-tax poor rural Alaska. (Incidentally, I never heard this question answered on the campaign trail either.)
  • What percentage of the $48 million is meant to cover the high cost of fuel? Is this mostly a fuel assistance program or is actually a program that will put money in the hands of communities to pay public safety officers, insure buildings, and so on?
  • Given the appropriation by the legislature last year into the Power Cost Equalization endowment fund, isn't the promise to fully fund PCE essentially an empty one since the money's already there?
I want to like Governor Palin and there were many parts of her speech I liked. But I can't help but think of all the unanswered questions she raised.

As I heard someone else say of the SotS - "There was lots of frosting but I'm still looking for the cake."

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