High school students tackle Alaska budget deficit in statewide debate tournament

Published: Apr. 1, 2017 at 10:14 PM AKDT
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A handful of high school debate teams from across Alaska gathered at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s fine arts building on Saturday to compete in the final rounds of a statewide tournament focusing on solutions the state’s troubled fiscal situation.

The months-long tournament, organized by UAA’s own debate team, began with more than 40 high school students, with teams from Service High School and East High School advancing to the finals and a chance to win $5,000 in scholarship money.

The debates on Saturday focused on three topics that have been central to the conversation about Alaska’s budget deficit over the past few years: introducing a state income tax, making further cuts to government spending, and capping PFD checks at $1,000.

Josh von Herrmann, with Seawolf Debate, said the goal of the tournament was to engage younger generations in the conversation about the state’s future.

“We realized that, as these discussions about the state continue going on in terms of solving the fiscal crisis, that nobody was really engaging the people who it's going to affect most and that's the younger people,” von Herrmann told Channel 2.