Power The Future Energy Hour Recap: Melodie Wilterdink with Alaska Policy Forum

Power The Future Energy Hour Recap: Melodie Wilterdink with Alaska Policy Forum

June 19, 2020

Every Tuesday night from 5:00-6:00 PM local time, Alaska State Director Rick Whitbeck hosts the “Power The Future Energy Hour” on KNVT (92.5 FM, 1020 AM and online at 1020KVNT.com).  The show (also replayed during the same hour on Saturday night) is heard throughout Southcentral Alaska communities, and acts as a recap of Power The Future activities in Alaska, as well as an opportunity to hear from various members of Alaska’s energy community.

Since the show’s inception in January 2018, it has had dozens of guests, including members of Congress, Alaska’s Governor, Lt. Governor, State Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners, members of the Governor’s leadership team, executives from organizations throughout Alaska who fight for jobs, opportunities and progress alongside us (The Alaska Support Industry Alliance, Resource Development Council, Alaska Oil & Gas Association, Alaska Miners Association and others), state legislators from both parties who have a role in energy policy as part of their legislative duties and executives from many of Alaska’s leading resource development projects (both current and potential).

Last night’s show focused on a recent Dittman Research poll underwritten by the Alaska Policy Forum (APF), an organization focused on growing prosperity in Alaska by maximizing individual liberties and freedom.  The poll focused on COVID-19, the Alaskan economy and taxes.  You can find the poll results here.

In our discussion with Melodie, we reviewed a slide show she’d given the week before, where the results of the survey were revealed.  As they highlighted on their website: 

  • 42% of Alaskans who responded to the survey have faced financial hardship due to coronavirus. Of the 28% of survey participants who own or manage a business, 44% say coronavirus and related shutdowns have impacted the long-term viability of their businesses.
  • There has been a HUGE change in Alaskans’ opinions on whether to reopen the state from just April to May, with most now in support of removing the mandates.
  • Alaskans are ready to see their friends and family again, but they’re still hesitant on many activities, from dining out to seeing a movie. Additionally, 87% of Alaskans believe that lawmakers should continue to make progress on state policy, rather than delaying work on other issues until the virus crisis is over.
  • Nearly one-fourth of respondents have recently considered moving out of Alaska. 16% said those considerations were being made due to low oil prices, 12% said lasting impact of coronavirus shutdowns, and 9% said effective cancellation of the tourism season.
  • As of May, nearly half of survey respondents ranked Alaska’s economy “not too good,” and another 24% said “pretty bad.” February 2020 was the most confident Alaskans had been in 5 years. Then there was a huge drop off in May, after the economic shutdown.
  • Just over one-third of respondents believe that cuts to services and spending should be the primary solution to resolve the state budget situation, and another third think that the primary solution should be generating revenue. However, two-thirds of Alaskans support making cuts to spending generally. Most Alaskans are open to increasing taxes on themselves in the form of a sales tax, but a majority is opposed to introducing an income tax.
  • Over half of respondents support introducing a state sales tax, and the only region with less than 50% support is the Interior. However, when broken down by ideology, no group “strongly supports” the introduction of a sales tax at more than a quarter of respondents.

Guests in upcoming weeks will include lawmakers, industry executives and senior-level government officials, as well as experts on Alaska’s resource economy and our budget.

If you’re not listening to the show live, feel free to catch the replay on SoundCloud.  You can catch this week’s show here. Feel free to reach out to us at Rick@PowerTheFuture.com if you have ideas for future shows!