Elections come with great responsibility for residents in the community. While national voting is going on, it is also important to remember to vote locally. Elections in the community are a large part of what happens in our daily lives, especially in Alaska. It is essential to understand the ballot measures before voting and how it can impact the community. With the recent budget cuts to the University, ballot measure two is focusing on the future students of Alaska.
According to the Official Election Pamphlet 2016, this measure will fundamentally change section eight of the Alaska Constitution to, “expand the state’s authority to incur debt by letting the state issue general obligation bonds backed by the state for secondary student loans.”
Currently, the revenue source the state uses is for infrastructure, housing loans and military. The goal is to add state-sponsored student loans, which will give students reduced interest rates on loans while costing nothing for state and taxpayers. Though this is a complicated process, Rep. Les Gara explains the procedure of this measure.
“It’s complex, but it depends very much on the bond market, and if the bond market isn’t favorable enough for the state to use a bond to reduce loan rates, the state won’t issue the bond,” Gara said. “If it is favorable and will reduce loan rates, the bond would be issued.”
As of now, these bonds are not allowed by statute because they require a Constitutional amendment.
“Under the Alaska Constitution General Obligation Bonds are allowed for construction projects, certain veterans services, but not for loan rate reduction,” Gara said. “The measure would change that to allow these bonds to be used for student loan rate reductions too.”
Ballot measure two is especially important for future students attending universities in Alaska. It will encourage potential college students to stay in state and attend a university in the community. Patrick FitzGerald, campaign manager at Harriet Drummond for State House, depicts the impact this measure could have on students.
“This has the ability to impact students and universities in the state. If Measure two passes, high school graduates will be eligible to take a student loan from the state for in-state education,” FitzGerald said.
Alaskans would be able to invest in themselves for training in skilled and high wage jobs if there were affordable financing for college and career trainings. This measure would increase access to education and training and minimize student debt.
“People deserve [an] opportunity, if you want to go to college, money should not be a barrier. In a small way, this helps students incur less debt, which is good, student loan debt is the second highest debt Americans carry behind a mortgage,” Gara said.
By decreasing student loans with minimum interest rates in the state, it is predicted that students will choose to stay in state for further education. This proposition would be beneficial for upcoming students. If student loans and debt are not reduced, it could result in negative results for the state’s economy.
“We need a university where students want to go, not one students won’t choose,” Gara said. “Losing good students to outside schools means we will damage our future workforce and economy because students who leave [the] state for school may never come back.”
It is important for residents of Alaska to participate in local elections. The future depends on decisions the community makes, and students are encouraged to vote to create better opportunities.
“Students should vote to create avenues for themselves in the future,” FitzGerald said, “As a recent graduate, job and career availability is very important and having a voice in deciding where time and effort to create job and career opportunities is a paramount concern of mine as it should be for everyone wanting a job or career in Alaska.”
Knowing what the propositions are in detail before voting is crucial in making a decision that will affect the community. Ballot measure two has positive objectives to provide a better solution and opportunity for Alaskans. Increasing access to education and training, while minimizing student debt would create efficient citizens in the community. Ballot measure two could be a beneficial solution to student debt, without costing the State or taxpayers, or increasing state budget.