Name: Sam Cason
District: Senate Seat K
Party Affiliation: Unaffiliated
Where were you born? Homer, Alaska
If you weren't born in Alaska, when did you come here? I was born here
Age on election day: 58
If you've attended college, which schools did you attend? What's your highest degree achieved?
University of Arkansas, JD
What is or was your main career?
If you've held or run for public office before, which one(s)?
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?
Drew, 30; Wiley, 27; Everett, 17
Why are you running for office?
I am disappointed in the lack of a sustainable budget process, I am worried by the lack of investment in our kids education and schools, and dismayed by the lack of will to have a capital budget, and by cuts to our criminal justice system. I see the partisan logjam in the State Senate as being the biggest impediment to dealing with these issues. The Republican majority seems determined to impose regressive policies that will end the pfd, and further harm our once strong education system. I believe we can do better, and have a bright future if rational leaders make evidence based decisions in the long term best interests of the people. We have almost spent all of our savings, and need to try a better and more sustainable way.
What are the most important issues facing Alaska?
A sustainably balanced budget. Protecting the pfd, which is the most efficient economic stimulator of our private sector. Our kids are our only savings plan for the future; we should be funding education by inflation proofing the base student allocation. Restoring the pension plans for our teachers, police and other public employees. We need a capital budget that will help keep our infrastructure, like the Port of Alaska, up to date and operational.
What would you do to reduce crime in Alaska?
Fund the criminal justice system. Police, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, court clerks... all the way to probation officers - we need a functioning system. Making sure our schools, especially schools in rural Alaska, have adequate resources. We should also explore subsidized housing, treatment, training, and diversionary programs. We need to realize that social programs actually help create wealth, and if properly implemented are a good investment in our community and our future.
Should dividends be paid under the original dividend formula?
The pfd is a tangible way we all share in the benefits and blessing of being in Alaska. It is a demonstrated boon to the economy, stimulating the private sector in ways government programs rarely do. We should protect and enshrine the dividend in the constitution. I'm not sure what the exact right answer is, but at least half of the fund that isn't reinvested in the fund should go to the people as dividends.
Should Permanent Fund earnings be used to pay for state government? How much?
Governor Walker made some tough choices and decisions, and I was glad that a portion of the income was used to keep from spending our last dollar of savings. That being said, no more than 50% of the income available should be spent on government. If necessary, we should look to other sources of revenue, such as increased production taxes.
What, if anything would you cut from the budget?
We should conduct government efficiency studies to determine if there are any unharvested savings to be had. In general the budget has been cut enough, or even too much in some cases - like education.
Should Alaska have new or increased taxes? What would you suggest?
The last time oil was $75/barrel, we brought in six billion dollars more than we did in 2017. We should bring our combined royalty/tax share of production closer to what oil companies pay in other states. Only after we do that should we look at imposing additional taxes.
Have humans contributed to climate change, and if so, does the state bear any responsibility to undo some of the effects?
It has been shown beyond a reasonable scientific doubt that human activity has contributed to climate change. Whether or not we can eventually undo some of the effects, sea level rise and increased sever weather events need to be planned for and dealt with
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?
Agree. Medical treatment is a human right, and Medicaid "reform" should mean more people have coverage, not fewer. Low income people get the benefit of Medicare; well off people get or can afford insurance. It is the middle class that keeps getting pinched.