Anchorage Chamber announces 2016 priorities

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The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce discussed its 2016 priorities this week which included keeping up with challenges presented by ongoing low oil prices. (iStock)
The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce discussed its 2016 priorities this week which included keeping up with challenges presented by ongoing low oil prices. (iStock)
The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce this week released its legislative priorities for the upcoming session.

Bruce Bustamante is the president of the Anchorage chamber. He says the list of priorities are drawn from responses to a brief survey sent to the 900-plus Anchorage-area businesses the chamber represents.

“Really it was loud and clear, what the desire is of the business community is that we need to get our fiscal house in order first,” Bustamante said. “I mean, that’s a very general statement, but I think everyone has been keeping up with the challenges that are ahead with low oil prices and the need to reduce spending. So that’s gotta be the first action taken.”

The survey didn’t delve deeply into just how much spending should be cut in the coming year. But, Bustamante says respondents did say cuts are only one part of the solution…and that the chamber should encourage lawmakers to consider new, sustainable revenue streams in addition to what’s expected to be extensive discussions regarding the Alaska LNG project.

Taxes and lottery possible solutions

Among the potential solutions endorsed by members of the Anchorage Chamber are a system to leverage use of the Permanent Fund, a statewide sales tax, and even a statewide lottery.

Taxes targeting specific industries – whether it’s oil and gas, mining, tourism, or otherwise – however, are notably not endorsed by the Chamber, according to Bustamante.

“Anytime a state starts looking at taxes and regulation, then you create this air of uncertainty,” Bustamante said. “And that’s not a good message as it perpetuates out to investors – either investors in the particular industry, or just investors overall.”

And that air of uncertainty, Bustamante says, can be detrimental to sustaining a healthy and competitive business environment.

He says the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce is planning a legislative fly-in with its board of directors on February 22nd and 23rd, to further emphasize the chamber’s priorities.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Metal, mineral price drop affecting Canada’s North, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finnish economy in a rut, 1.2% growth in 2016, Yle News

Greenland:  Greenland pioneers Arctic tourism & mining, Blog by Mia Bennett

Norway: Peace and stability crucial for Arctic economy, Barents Observer

Russia:  Economic crisis hit airlines hard in Russia’s western Arctic, Barents Observer

United States: How competitive is Alaska LNG?, Alaska Public Radio Network

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