22nd Alaska State Legislature
News from Senator Randy Phillips

 
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Phone: (907) 465-4949
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Phillips Releases Survey Results

For Immediate Release:


March 1, 2001

Contact:


Senator Randy Phillips at (907) 465-4949

(JUNEAU) - Respondents to Sen. Randy Phillips' (R-Eagle River) annual constituent poll supported keeping the high school exit exam on track for the class of 2002 and building the proposed natural gas pipeline along the Alaska Highway.

"The collective wisdom of my constituents is energizing, and I always value the results of my surveys," said Phillips. "I forward the results to my colleagues in the Legislature, and also to the State Department Commissioners, our Washington D.C. Congressional delegation, and leaders in the Municipality of Anchorage. I think it is necessary to share how my constituents feel on issues that are important to our state."

Survey questions covered many topics of interest to Alaskans, including proposed uses of the projected budget surplus for this year, and suggestions for meeting the expected budget shortfalls in the future. The survey also touched on proposed ways to deal with DWI offenders and help prevent future offenses.

"A majority of the respondents feel there is a split between urban and rural Alaska," said Phillips. "Many talked about the difficulty of understanding and communicating different perspectives, and the need for economic growth to stimulate opportunity in both rural and urban areas of our state. Legislators will continue to struggle with urban and rural issues of Alaska.

I can not speak for the state Legislature as a whole," said Phillips, "but my approach on these differences-whether education, housing, natural resources, social services, capital projects or governance-has been and will be that all Alaskans should be treated with equal respect. One respondent said it well: 'There will always be a split due to geographical and life-style differences. We need to communicate with each other and listen to one another to be fair and unbiased in our assessments and judgements.' Another said: 'Seek first to understand, then be understood.' "

A question on whether the state was going in the 'right direction' drew varied responses. Two-thirds of the respondents thought Alaska was going in the right direction, and cited the continued work to open ANWR, increases in the tourism industry and the possible construction of the gas pipeline as positive examples. They also said that the Legislature has the right idea about fiscal responsibility and the need for a long-term fiscal plan.

Those who were concerned about the direction the state was taking referred to the need to develop new sources of income, continued spending beyond current revenues, and federal control of hunting and fishing. Some were not in support of opening ANWR and felt there was not enough focus on preserving wildlife and the environment.

Of the 11, 253 questionnaires mailed, 807 or 7 % were completed and returned.

Survey results:

Gas pipeline route: 80% supported building the proposed gas pipeline along the Alaska Highway; 20% preferred the Northern Route (a.k.a. "Over-the-top" route).

Driving while intoxicated:

68 % supported lowering the legal blood alcohol content from .10 to .08; 32 % were opposed.

66% supported establishing a separate DWI court to focus on DWI prosecution, enforcement, education and screening; 34 % were opposed.

U.S. Military:

79 % supported fully counting each member of the U.S. Military stationed in Alaska and their dependants; 21 % were opposed.

Alaska High School Exit Exams:

78% supported requiring high school seniors to pass an exit exam before receiving their diploma; 22 % were opposed.

72% said the class of 2002 should be required to pass the exam; 28 % supported delaying the effective date until 2006.

Anchorage School Sites:

72 % supported building a middle school at the corner of Muldoon and DeBarr Roads, where the Alaskan Village Mobile Home Court is currently located; 28 % were opposed.

52 % of Eagle River residents supported building a new high school on Hiland Road; 48 % were opposed.

State Budget:

Survey respondents were asked how they proposed using the projected $100 -$120 million surplus in the state budget.

  • 39 % supported using the surplus to repay the Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund.
  • 27 % wanted surplus deposited into the Permanent Fund.
  • 19 % thought the surplus should be used to increase Permanent Fund Dividends.
  • 15 % supported spending the surplus on the governor's proposed budget increase.

Survey respondents were asked how they proposed meeting the projected budget shortfalls in the future.

  • 33 % said to reduce the state General Fund budget.
  • 25 % wanted to use the Constitutional Budget Reserve to meet the shortfalls.
  • 17 % supported new or increased taxes.
  • 15 % thought state financial assets should be sold.
  • 10 % supported using the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve.

63 % said the budget cuts made during the last five years under the Republican-led Majorities plan to reduce state spending by $250 million were about the right amount; 9 % said the cuts were too much and 28 % said there were not enough cuts in spending.

Alaska's Direction:

65 % thought Alaska is going in the right direction; 35 % did not.

Urban/Rural Alaska:

92 % of respondents said they feel there is an "urban/rural split" in Alaska; 8 % did not.

50% of those who think there is a split think that it is a serious problem.

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Attachments:

| Sen. Phillips' Page |

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