Gunnar Knapp, ISER’s director, was the opening speaker at Governor Walker’s conference, “Building a Sustainable Future: Conversation with Alaskans,” held June 5 to 7 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Two former ISER directors, Vic Fischer and Scott Goldsmith, also took part in the conference, which brought together Alaskans from around the state to discuss Alaska’s fiscal future. The conference was held at a time when a sudden drop in oil prices has slashed state oil revenues and left the budget for the coming year several billion dollars in the red.
Oil revenues have largely funded state government for more than 30 years. Dr. Knapp’s presentation to the conference, An Introduction to Alaska Fiscal Facts and Choices, summarizes the fundamental fiscal problem the state government faces over time: “Alaska oil production is falling and our population is rising. It is hard for falling oil production to support most of state government for a growing population.”
The presentation goes on to describe the fiscal choices for Alaskans, unless oil prices rise dramatically and unexpectedly: adjust our spending or how we pay for it. The state government has several practical options—cut spending more, raise new revenues, or use earnings of the Permanent Fund. As Dr. Knapp points out, “None of these options are easy or popular.”
Download the presentation (PDF, 2.1MB) or watch a video recording. If you have questions, get in touch with Gunnar Knapp at Gunnar.Knapp@uaa.alaska.edu. ISER publications are solely the work of individual authors and should be attributed to them, not to ISER, the University of Alaska Anchorage, or the research sponsors.