Letters from the Editor: an economy atop our backs
Education in our state is remarkably cheap despite the hikes and fees. That was no small factor in my decision to return — only Utah, Florida, New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming offer cheaper in-state tuition, and if I’m being honest none of them are states I’d rather live in than this one.
But the ten percent tuition increase we’re facing is just one more straw on the proverbial camel’s back. The overemphasis of college as the only path to the American dream, combined with its constantly-increasing cost (which far outstrips inflation), has left our generation deeply indebted with dwindling job prospects. Without delving into particularly cynical theories as to the source of or intentions behind this trend, I’d at least posit that our future fiscal stability is being sacrificed for someone else’s short-term quarterly gains.
It seems that the state of Alaska is eager to take its pound of flesh from students as well. With oil prices stuck on the floor, the state legislature has all but refused to consider that this illustrates an energy future we should be preparing for. Instead they promptly brought out the knives to cut the UA system to the bone (as well as, in a hilariously villainous move, moving to turn off the cameras pointed at themselves).
It’s not a big leap to conclude that our state legislators are bigger fans of Outside oil and gas companies than they are of their own children and grandchildren. As primary and secondary education in Alaska braced for $150 million in cuts with nary a peep from the legislature, senators and representatives went to the mat to protect $430 million in energy producer tax credits. This speaks to a reductive, but extremely pervasive view on the part of our state’s elite; that the exportable materials under the ground are of far more value than the people who live upon it.
It also illustrates our lawmakers’ unwillingness to consider new revenue streams, a calculated move that wins favor from people who are furious over the governor’s modest reduction to the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD), yet naively think the legislature won’t gut and fillet the PFD the moment it suits them.
Simply put, we students are being forced to mortgage our futures. It’s bad enough that we’re doing so to line the pockets of bankers at the national level, but at the state level it’s truly insulting — a transparent attempt by oil company shills to prop up a dying industry at our expense. Johnsen’s 10 percent hike may be painful, but in the end we’re paying to try and keep our campuses open and in decent repair, a stopgap to deaden the sting of Strategic Pathways. Rest assured, this will not be the last time Juneau forces us to make difficult choices, selling off our future to keep the oil lobby happy.