Anchorage lawyer and consultant Brad Keithley, who has committed $200,000 of his own money to support fiscally conservative candidates in the upcoming races, has sent out a questionnaire to try to test the fiscally conservative commitment of those candidates. (See the questionnaire here).
Keithley, who has been pushing for decreased spending in the state, had been toying with running for governor this past winter. In the end he opted to effect change in other ways, including setting up an independent expenditure committee. When he announced the formation of the committee, he said that he would use the money to support three to five or so specific candidates. He says that the seats that he’ll target are ones that are winnable. ”We’re going to be professional and serious about this,” Keithley said. “I want to move the needle.”
Keithley has been using a 2013 report by UAA’s Institute of Social and Economic Research, to argue that the state cannot sustain current spending levels. Keithley writes:
Earlier, in November 2012 following the last election, the new Senate Majority had listed the following as the third of their “Top Three Areas of Focus”: “Develop sustainable capital and operating budgets for current and future generations.” Despite those warnings and commitments, in the last two years the state has gone backwards on this issue. Since 2012, the Legislature has passed and the Governor signed back-to-back the two largest deficit budgets in the state’s history and reduced the state’s “cash in reserves” by over a third… Although spending has been reduced by some amount from pre-2012 levels, the reductions have not kept up even with the rate at which revenues have dropped, much less been reduced sufficiently to increase savings as required in order to develop long-term sustainable budgets.
The questions fall under two general categories:
- A candidate’s demonstrated support or failure to support a sustainable state budget.
- A candidate’s public pledge to decline to join any caucus that requires them to vote for the caucus budget as a condition of joining.
The last category of question strikes at the heart of caucus discipline, which, as we’ve seen in D.C., could have unintended consequences. There are always costs associated with lack of discipline. Games will always be played. To use one example, if enough people sign the pledge, it’ll likely result in “sweetening the pot” for those who don’t sign.
Contact Amanda Coyne at Amandamcoyne@yahoo.com