The state should aggressively expand staffing for public safety, including Troopers, VPSOs, prosecutors, support staff for those respective departments, and with municipal revenue sharing that directly supports the Anchorage Police Department. Cuts to the police and prosecutor workforce, in conjunction with the opioid epidemic and reduced penalties for property crime, have led to an explosion of crime. It is time to fight back with more cops, more prosecutors, more behavioral health treatment (including expanded capacity for residential and out-patient treatment), and legal reforms to strengthen penalties for criminal behavior. The legislature should support efforts by health care providers to integrate addiction treatment with emergency room care. We also need to improve early childhood care to reduce the incidence of adverse childhood experiences and trauma, which are closely correlated with susceptibility to addiction. I strongly support stronger penalties for sexual assault, and closing loopholes to ensure that perpetrators like Justin Schneider are never released without a significant jail sentence. We should also examine policies other states have used to reduce violence associated with substance misuse. Finally, we must expand API's capacity and staffing to keep people with severe mental health issues off our streets and out of our hospital emergency rooms.
Fighting for Working Families
As I've told people since the beginning of this campaign, I support either higher oil taxes and/or a progressive income tax to balance the state budget and fund core public services. We should also examine creative revenue sources such as putting a price on carbon pollution and reinvesting that in deficit reduction, expansion of PFDs, and renewable energy/efficiency investments.
The choice here is simple: Either we raise sufficient new revenue to fund core services, or the PFD will be cut when we run out of state savings. It is dishonest to campaign against new revenue while claiming to support the PFD. We can't save the PFD--which has a long record of reducing inequality and reducing poverty in Alaska--without a sustainable budget that includes new revenue.
"Zack worked with us to help defeat Proposition 1 and ensure all Alaskans are treated with dignity and respect." --Debbie Lockard
The state needs to reform its approach to transportation and ensure infrastructure investments prioritize safe streets that spur economic development while improving public safety. For instance, Anchorage’s auto-centric roads--many of which lack adequate pedestrian and bike facilities--are an impediment to economic development, because they discourage movement by residents and tourists through downtown and other main thoroughfares. In addition, Alaska should build on its lucrative outdoor recreation economy and expand both trail infrastructure and marketing to enhance tourism visitation and revenue from hikers, mountain and snow bikers, backpackers, paddlers, and other adventure tourists, an industry that already generates $337 million in state and local tax revenue and 72,000 direct jobs, with opportunity for growth.
I'm honored by support of Alaska Native leaders including Barbara Donatelli, Heather Kendall-Miller, Vickie Otte, Greg Razo, and others.