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Mon Oct 3, 2016, 12:26 AM

Any solutions to Alaska's fiscal crisis will be painful, forum attendees say

Each possible step to solve Alaska's fiscal crisis will be painful and nobody wants to take any of them.

That was the message delivered at a day-long forum in Anchorage Saturday that addressed the fiscal woes of a state government that for decades has been nearly entirely dependent on oil revenues for its operating funds. With oil production at only about a quarter of its 1980s-level peak and oil prices sinking, the state's situation is dire, said speakers at the forum, sponsored by the nonprofit group Alaska Common Ground and the University of Alaska Anchorage's College of Business and Public Policy.

The forum sought to build consensus on the state's future path, but all options are unpalatable for a state that just ended one fiscal year about $4 billion in the hole and just started a new fiscal year that is expected to have a $3 billion shortfall.

Already, Gov. Bill Walker has taken one extremely unpopular step. He used his veto power to cut in half the annual dividend from the Alaska Permanent Fund, the state oil-wealth fund that makes payouts to nearly every Alaska resident. This year's dividend, to start arriving in bank accounts next week, will be $1,022 instead of the more than $2,000 previously expected.

Read more: http://www.adn.com/politics/2016/10/01/any-solutions-to-alaskas-fiscal-crisis-will-be-painful-forum-attendees-say/

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