2018 ADVOCACY AGENDA
It is important to note that this agenda does not represent all issues pertinent to the business community rather, the Advocacy Agenda is a “rolling agenda” and serves as a base document that will be monitored for purposes of updating or adding issues important to the Fairbanks business community.
ECONOMIC & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Alaska’s Interior will only thrive if the business and economic climate is healthy. The local economy is heavily dependent on a few key industries: healthcare, government, natural resource development and tourism. Diversification is important to the long-term sustainability of the Greater Fairbanks area.
Points of focus include:
1. Balanced Budget
- Government leaders need to pass a responsible budget, in a timely manner, balancing state revenue against expenses. Alaskans need a comprehensive, long-term sustainable fiscal plan promising state funds to essential programs while looking ahead to strategic investing that will promote long-term economic growth.
2. Support the University of Alaska
- Urge the Alaska State Legislature and the Governor to strongly support the University of Alaska as it undergoes a comprehensive review of programs and services via the UA Strategic Pathways framework, as adopted by the Board of Regents in 2016. The Chamber supports administrative efforts to reallocate resources from programs and services that are:
(1) not core to the university’s strengths in meeting state needs
(2) challenged by low enrollment, high cost, or insufficient faculty resources; or
(3) redundant programs.
A vibrant university is crucial for the education of our citizenry, the development of a highly trained Alaskan workforce, and the research and development endeavors necessary to address the state’s critical challenges and opportunities.
3. Business Retention and Expansion
- Identify opportunities for local businesses to expand operations, create jobs and diversify.
4. Arctic Opportunities
- Promote economic development, improve health, safety and emergency response in Alaska’s Arctic.
5. Criminal Justice Reform
- Continue to support the development and implementation of legislation that will result in a more efficient and effective criminal justice system aimed at reducing recidivism through substance abuse treatment programs, prevention, and supervision programs, while continuing to enhance public safety.
6. Community Development and Revitalization
- Support the demolition plan for the Polaris Building in downtown Fairbanks. Enhance the economy through Explore Fairbanks’ efforts to develop a convention/performing arts center.
7. Arts Engagement
- Promote the efforts of the arts community that make the greater Fairbanks area a more attractive place to live, work and visit by strengthening the partnership between business and the arts and cultural communities.
EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
Advocacy Focus: To advocate for a well-educated, well-trained and readily available skilled workforce in order to support the needs of Interior Alaska businesses.
Points of Focus:
- Review policy that impacts Alaska’s educational communities via high quality educational options from early childhood to post-secondary in public, private, homeschool, and higher education systems.
- Promote workforce training options/programs such as apprenticeship, certificate/endorsement and professional development in all sectors in an effort to improve, supplement and sustain the skill set of our local workforce.
- Promote workforce development through career and technical education support programs at the secondary and post-secondary level.
- Advocate for UAF Career & Technical College programs.
- Promote an educated workforce through post-secondary education programs and/or credential training in high demand sectors as a key element of advancement for the Alaskan population.
- Advocate for a systemic change in the timing of budgeted state support for Alaska school districts and post-secondary institutions intended to promote consistency of personnel and continuity of programs.
- Increase awareness about the need for a healthy state retirement system through advocacy related to management of the state’s unfunded liability from the PERS and TRS retirement system (#4 expense behind 1) Health & Social Services and 2) Education and 3) University).
- Encourage the educational system to implement human resource strategic planning methods in an effort to reduce the unfunded retirement liability.
- Educate, encourage, mentor and support member businesses that endeavor to provide work-based opportunities and educational training to students at the secondary and postsecondary levels in the spirit of both economic development and motivational awareness.
- Support the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ research and development endeavors via public-private partnership for the development of intellectual property; provide education and promote awareness related to the multiplier concept for funding to encourage investment.
ENERGY, NATURAL RESOURCES, AND ENVIRONMENT
Responsible development and management of Alaska’s natural resources is critical to supporting a growing economy and improved quality of life for Alaskans. Environmental legislation and regulations should not increase the administrative burden resulting in unnecessary rules, regulations or project delays that become cost prohibitive to business and development.
Points of focus include:
1. Promote home and business energy audits and weatherization programs.
2. Support the community’s efforts to get natural gas to as many Interior Alaska customers as possible, at the lowest cost possible, as soon as possible through the Interior Energy Project.
3. Support development of a North Slope natural gas project that will provide competitive gas for both in-state consumption and export to foreign markets.
4. Support reasonable and prudent efforts to meet the federally imposed PM 2.5 regulations.
5. Support self-sustaining recycling efforts promoting wise stewardship.
6. Support long-term and stable state and federal fiscal, regulatory and tax policies that increase investment leading to more development and production of resources.
7. Pursue the development and balanced management of Alaska’s natural resources including minerals, energy, agriculture, forestry and wildlife, while protecting Alaska for future generations.
8. State and federal regulatory and permitting laws should support exploration, site development, employment, infrastructure, research and production.
9. Support Legislation Prohibiting Severance Taxes on Metal Mines
- Support legislation that prohibits specific mineral taxes at the local level, maintaining that authority at the state level and implements revenue sharing of a portion of the Alaska Mining License Tax to municipalities or boroughs that host a metal mine.
10. Support efficient, affordable, and reliable power production for Interior Alaska.
The Chamber supports health care reform that expands affordable access to meaningful coverage and improves quality of health care. The Chamber is focused on promoting education and awareness opportunities that will help businesses address health care costs as well as promoting effective private sector solutions to address these challenges. The Chamber encourages reforms to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that provide relief to employers and employees. The health care system in its current form is unsustainable, absent significant reform.
Points of focus include:
1. Support ongoing healthcare and Medicaid reform and implementation in order to lower the cost of healthcare and support a long term solution to sustain small businesses and the individual marketplace in Alaska, both for the state and business owners.
2. Education and Awareness
- Facilitate educational opportunities to assist small and medium sized businesses address health care costs and premiums.
3. Workers’ Compensation Reform
- Improve the balance between providing timely, efficient and fair compensation to injured workers at a reasonable costs to employers.
4. Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act
- Support reforms that provide relief to employers and employees by: reducing premiums, restoring the 40-hour work week, repealing taxes that increase premiums (such as the excise tax, medical device tax, and health insurance tax), and improve flexibility for tax-preferred accounts.
Develop, maintain, and support cooperative and beneficial partnerships between the military and Interior Alaska businesses that stimulate regional economic growth; promote the capabilities and sustainability of our Interior military installations; and support our servicemen and women, their families, and their role in defending our Nation’s interests.
Points of focus include:
- Support efforts by the Fairbanks North Star Borough, City of Fairbanks, and City of North Pole to establish military facility zones as a vehicle to obtain and administer funds for business development specifically relating to military activities.
- Continue to support efforts to advance military operations on all interior military installations, including: Eielson Air Force Base, Clear Air Force Base, Ft. Wainwright, Ft. Greely, and the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex.
- Support military community-compatible land-use and air space proposals to assist the missions of local military installations.
- Assist veterans, retirees, transitioning service members, military spouses, National Guard members, and Reserve Component members in finding employment opportunities.
- Promote Military Community Partnership programs with private businesses and the use of local contractors for federal military projects.
- Collaborate with Interior military installations and contractors to prepare the community for construction of the Long Range Discrimination Radar at Clear AFS; stationing of the next generation fighter jet, the F-35, at Eielson AFB; upgrades to Ft. Greely missile defense and organizational growth at Ft. Wainwright.
- Support Interior National Guard and Reserve activities and efforts to highlight the benefit of our hometown heroes, including the basing of additional assets in the Interior, the expansion/upgrade of facilities, the Air National Guard aerial refueling tanker aircraft upgrade and other initiatives.
Points of focus include:
1) Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System (FMATS)
- Reinstate funding for the Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System (FMATS).
2) Transportation Funding
- Support revenue for maintenance, enhancements and efficiencies within Alaska’s transportation infrastructure. Support the creation of an Alaska Transportation Infrastructure funding program.
- The Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce encourages the US Congress to secure viable, long term solutions for the Highway Trust Fund and the Aviation Trust Fund.
3) Transportation Hub
- Enhance Fairbanks as the transportation hub for Interior and Northern Alaska.
4) Fiscal Engagement
- Monitor state and federal budgeting to ensure priority infrastructure projects receive adequate attention.
5) Federal Transportation Funding
- The Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce urges the US congress to secure a viable, long term solution for the Highway Trust Fund’s structural revenue deficit and recurrent insolvency by 2020.