Walker and Begich talk future of PFD, and future of local investment in Alaska

Published: Aug. 29, 2018 at 10:26 PM AKDT
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Two of the major candidates for governor, Bill Walker and Mark Begich, outlined their vision for improving the Alaska economy during a forum in Anchorage.

There was also talk by the candidates about the future of the PFD.

Some of the main themes included stimulating the state's economy, giving incentives for local businesses to remain in Alaska, and bringing in outside investment.

But first, the candidates said some of the state's major issues need to be addressed.

"As you build an economy up, you also have to have an economy people want to live in, stay in, retire, grow their families,” said Begich. “Part of that is making sure it's safe."

"You have to have public safety so they feel comfortable about coming into this state,” said Walker. “You also have to have an education system that they feel comfortable bringing their families to."

Walker and Begich both agreed investors won't stay in Alaska until the state's high crime rates are curbed.

They also talked about the importance of bringing down the high cost of healthcare, and investing in education.

And when it came to the issue on many Alaskans minds, what will they do with the PFD, both candidates seem eager to keep money in the unrestricted reserve out of the legislature's hands.

Walker recommended using a small piece of permanent fund earnings to support venture capital. Begich hinted at partnering with the banking community to support entrepreneurs.

Republican candidate for Governor Mike Dunleavy was not present at the discussion. Organizers say he accepted an invitation to be at the forum, but told them shortly before the event that he had a scheduling conflict.

Dunleavy released a statement to Channel 2 about his absence, saying in part “I have been in conversation with Alaskans about our state and the many important issues in all sorts of places and through a wide variety of means, and will continue to do so. I hope the event this evening was a success and I look forward to connecting with the organizers and attendees along the campaign trail in the very near future.”