Kenai Peninsula Borough Assemblyman Gary Knopp wants to bring his local experience to the Legislature. He’s running for House District 30 against three other Republicans in the primary. The Alaska primary election is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 16.
Finishing his third term on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, Gary Knopp thinks it’s a good time to move on to statewide politics. But if he’s elected to represent House District 30, he says he would keep the local level at the forefront when making statewide decisions.
“A lot of legislators have never served at the local level and don’t necessarily understand the impacts to their local communities in the decisions they make,” Knopp said.
Knopp was unsuccessful in winning the central Kenai Peninsula seat in the House in 2012. This time, he sees the same financial issues facing the state. Knopp says his experience with the borough assembly and Alaska Municipal League make him a good candidate, as well as his willingness to negotiate.
“Standing hard and fast just is not working, we’re not getting anywhere like that. So a willingness to negotiate on the issues, have the conversations,” Knopp said.
Balancing the state budget is one of his top priorities. He’d like to see more cuts to the operating budget, and is in favor of using Alaska Permanent Fund earnings to help close the budget cap, as long as a dividend to Alaskans is still guaranteed. If there’s still a deficit, he would then consider other revenue enhancement measures, but says he’d take them one step at a time.
“I’m more of a slow, cautious approach. I think we need to look at more budget cuts in the operating budget, and that’s where I would start before I would pursue additional revenue. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a phased approach to revenue,” Knopp said.
He’d like to see a natural gas line from the North Slope to Nikiski, but thinks that having the state call the shots isn’t the best way to make it happen.
“Quit changing the rules, quit interjecting your own likes and dislikes without good cause for pursuing them. You know, you’ve got to work with them, not against them, and it seems like we’ve done nothing but work against the people we need to partner with,” Knopp said.
The gas line would help the economy of the Kenai Peninsula, and Knopp thinks that having a good and affordable quality of life is important to voters.
Knopp says he would remind other legislators that any financial decisions they make on the state budget affects the local level, as well. If the Legislature imposes new taxes while capping dividends, cutting revenue-sharing to municipalities and communities and raising payment rates on the state’s retirement plans, those effects will accumulate on the backs of residents.
“You’re getting hit at the state level and the local level because mill rates locally would have to go up to make up for that cost shift. The state’s passing the buck to municipalities. Municipalities will make that up (and) then pass it on to the residents. I’m real conscious of that and it’s something I want to avoid,” Knopp said.
For more information on Knopp, visit garyknoppforstatehouse.com, or visit his page on Facebook.