Name: Kathryn Dodge
District: House District 1
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Where were you born? Pasadena, Calif.
If you weren't born in Alaska, when did you come here? 1973
Age on election day: 64
If you've attended college, which schools did you attend? What's your highest degree achieved?
University Alaska Fairbanks: AAS Electronics Technology
Alaska Pacific University: BA Organization Management
Fielding Graduate Institute: MA Organizational Design and Effectiveness
Fielding Graduate Institute: MA Human Development
Fielding Graduate Institute: PhD Human and Organizational Systems
What is or was your main career?
If you've held or run for public office before, which one(s)?
Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly
If you have a spouse or significant other whom you live with, what is their name?
If you have children, what are their first names and ages?
Why are you running for office?
I’m running to represent House District 1, most of the city of Fairbanks, for three reasons: 1) I have earned a reputation for working across the aisle and I believe we need to work together to develop a sustainable budget; 2) to ensure that Alaskans have opportunities to thrive in our state; and 3) I have worked in economic development and private industry and understand the importance of investing in our future.
What are the most important issues facing Alaska?
The top issues I’ve heard about when knocking on doors are: 1) education, 2) our economy, and 3) public safety. We must ensure our youth have a quality education and strong foundation for their future. Further, Alaskans must have the opportunity to earn a degree, certificate and/or vocational training that will prepare them for good paying jobs. Our economy has been stagnant and is still overly reliant on a few industries and we must work to diversify our economy to lessen this reliance. Public safety is another concern I’ve heard about. This includes impacts from the opioid crisis, streets that aren’t safe for kids to play in, and concerns about the unintended consequences of our criminal justice system reform. We need to revisit SB91, including ensuring it is adequately funded.
What would you do to reduce crime in Alaska?
I would begin by working with my colleagues to hold a statewide hearing so we can listen to Alaskans, law enforcement, criminal justice system experts and non-profit organization’s concerns. Then I would work with my colleagues and experts to develop public policy proposals that would reduce crime rates in Alaska. I would also prioritize funding for mental health programs and substance abuse treatment to provide the resources that are necessary to help Alaskans who are struggling get their lives back on track.
Should dividends be paid under the original dividend formula?
The Permanent Fund Dividend was created to ensure that all Alaskans receive a benefit from our natural resources and have a stake in the governance of our state. Many of the Fairbanksans I’ve spoken to this summer have told me that they rely on the dividend to make ends meet and cutting it has hurt their families. The “original dividend formula” sought to compensate Alaskans based on their length of residency in the state and was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1982 because it violated the US Constitution. I believe that dividends should be paid in a way that provides the greatest possible benefit to Alaskans.
Should Permanent Fund earnings be used to pay for state government? How much?
If we want to see Alaska prosper, we must provide funding for necessary infrastructure, education and public services like law enforcement, snow removal and road maintenance. In times when the state is not receiving enough revenue to support these basic necessities, I believe that earnings from the Permanent Fund may play a role in funding necessary state services. I also believe that it is necessary for Alaskans to have a voice in determining what portion of the Permanent Fund’s earnings can be used for these services. When the legislature capped last year’s dividends and passed legislation to pay for state services out of the Permanent Fund’s earnings, they did not give Alaskans the opportunity to be a part of that decision.
What, if anything would you cut from the budget?
There are many policies in place that allow companies to do business in our state but put the burden of paying for the infrastructure and services they need on the Alaskan people. After making sure that outside corporate interests are paying their fair share, I would work with my colleagues in the legislature to identify areas where bureaucratic red tape, and hopefully respective budgets, can be reduced. I do not support across the board cuts.
Should Alaska have new or increased taxes? What would you suggest?
We need to take a careful look at whether corporate and out of state interests are paying their fair share to help maintain our infrastructure and fund necessary services. If after reexamining our policies in these areas, we still face a significant budget shortfall, I believe we should evaluate things like our motor fuel tax. Alaska has not changed its tax on motor fuels since 1970 and when adjusted for inflation, our tax rate on gasoline and diesel fuel has reached its lowest level in history. The motor fuel tax helps to maintain our roads and asks the most from those who use the roads most. If we determine that we need additional revenues, I believe that it would make sense to consider updating taxes like the motor fuel tax.
Have humans contributed to climate change, and if so, does the state bear any responsibility to undo some of the effects?
Scientific consensus is that it is extremely likely that climate change has resulted from human activities. Whether or not one believes the science or agrees with the peer reviewed research, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our planet. This includes taking steps to mitigate the effects of climate change and work to develop solutions that don’t continue to make things worse.
Do you agree or disagree with Gov. Walker's decision to expand Medicaid in 2014? How much do you believe that decision cost the state treasury?
I agree with Governor Walker's decision to expand Medicaid. Since September of 2015, Medicaid expansion has paid nearly $1 billion into Alaska’s health care industry, provided Alaska with federal match dollars for programs that were previously funded entirely from the state’s general fund, and saved Alaska close to $16 million. In addition, Medicaid expansion has covered more than $73 million in behavioral health services, providing critical help to many, including those struggling with addiction. The opioid epidemic has impacted the lives of too many of our friends, family members and neighbors and it’s played a major role in our escalating crime rates. I support the expansion of Medicaid and will work to make sure that we prioritize measures that provide affordable health care to all Alaskans.