There’s a hot race between Republicans for House District 30, covering the central Kenai Peninsula. Since the incumbent, Kurt Olson, said he wasn’t running, four candidates have thrown their hats in the ring and will appear on the primary ballot. Keith Baxter is a city councilman in Soldotna, and would like to take his conservative vision to Juneau. The Alaska primary election is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 16.
Keith Baxter wants to see the state of Alaska do better with its money. One thing he thinks has not been a good investment is legislatures that have failed to close the fiscal gap.
“I think that we can’t afford to wait to legislate. We can’t afford to send people to Juneau that are going to sit on their laurels and collect their per diems and collect their salaries and not enact a fiscal plan,” Baxter said.
Baxter has been on the Soldotna City Council for three years, and now would like to represent the central Kenai Peninsula in the state House. If given the opportunity, he says he will bring a spirit of cooperation and a sense of urgency to Juneau to pass a fiscal plan.
“No plan is going to be perfect but I’m willing to work as hard as anyone to make the best plan possible. … We need to move on from this 30-plus-year period when we’ve been able to have a complete dependence on oil and gas to pay for our state services,” he said.
Baxter says he’s willing to face the tough choices that will have to be made to put the state on better economic footing.
“All of the solutions available to us have downsides. But we’re going to have to move forward and transition into a new phase for our state,” he said.
He thinks permanent fund earnings will have to be part of the solution.
“I’m open to those discussions, I’m open to those ideas. But I’ve not found anything that’s mathematically viable that doesn’t use in some way, shape or form, earnings from our investments,” Baxter said.
Baxter says he would like to see another $500 million cut from the budget through streamlining, prioritizing and looking at performance-based funding for departments and agencies. Tapping permanent fund earnings for $1.8 billion, like proposed in Senate Bill 128, which did not pass, would leave about $1 billion of the budget gap to come from new revenue, or from the Constitutional Budget Reserve. Though Baxter thinks tapping the CBR should only be a one-year stopgap while new tax measures are put in place.
The budget needs to be dealt with immediately, Baxter says, but he’s not as urgent on pushing construction of a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Nikiski.
“I’m not in a hurry to discount our gas and take on new investors and dilute the share of revenue the state will receive just to get it done quickly,” he said.
Baxter says he hopes to get a chance to be part of a solution for the state’s future.
“If we don’t have people with conservative vision to keep the government slim and trim and accountable, then it’ll grow into what have now,” he said.
For more information on Baxter, visit his page on Facebook.