Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:
Dec. 20, 2014
Ketchikan Daily News: Frugal thinking
With a drop in oil prices limiting revenue for state capital and operating budgets, Alaskans will have to think frugally for the time being.
At least in terms of public operations of and capital dollars from the state.
Privately, the lower price for a barrel of oil results in lower automotive and heating fuel prices for individuals and families.
Of course, if those prices are lower in the private sector, then they are also for the state. It gets its fuel and power for state offices and motor vehicles from the same sources.
But, these prices result in less oil revenue for Alaska, too. For a state that depends largely on that revenue, it must cut its expenses.
Charged with managing the revenue shortfall is Gov. Bill Walker's administration and the state Legislature. But, while they are the state's leaders, they aren't the only Alaskans that suffer the consequences of budget challenges, and this is indeed a challenging budget year.
Given that, Alaskans should supply any ideas — big and small — to state leadership that will help to reduce the state's costs.
For example, tighter times often result in job losses or lower-paying jobs. Alaskans turn to unemployment benefits provided by the state or other government assistance to address daily necessities.
In the current situation, that places a heavier demand on public services when the government is experiencing less revenue to dispense. While assistance recipients probably cannot volunteer to provide government services in exchange for their public assistance, they can volunteer in their communities and help out in other ways.
It isn't unheard of to hear them say such. They express their appreciation for what they receive in assistance, and then they ask what they might be able to do to help in return.
Many volunteer opportunities exist in every community. Some of these are organized by nonprofits, while others are simply recognized and addressed with one's own initiative — for example, picking up trash along a hiking trail, offering to pick up groceries or a prescription for an elderly or temporarily unable neighbor, visiting a person confined to a home or even the jail, or volunteering to read to kids at school.
The communities and state also have many opportunities to volunteer — committees and boards cover every special interest imaginable. And the bodies often are seeking new members.
That's an idea that could have wide-ranging effects depending on the volunteer and the task accomplished. It's not an idea that will save the state from its financial woes. But it's a contribution, and it's small contributions combined that make a big difference.
Experts in various industries and professions, where traditionally the big money is, will come up with cost-saving measures for the state. Their ideas likely will take bigger chunks out of Alaska's spending and hopefully help to create new revenue sources.