• 2015 Alaska's Construction Spending Forecast

      Goldsmith, Oliver Scott; Cravez, Pamela (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2015-01-01)
      OVERVIEW The total value of construction spending “on the street” in Alaska in 2015 will be $8.5 billion, down 3% from 2014.1,2,3 Wage and salary employment in the construction industry, which increased an estimated 6 percent last year, to about 17,600, will decline slightly in 2015.4 Oil and gas sector spending will fall 2% to $3.8 billion from its record level of $3.9 billion last year. Other spending will be $4.7 billion, a decline from $4.9 billion last year. Private spending, excluding oil and gas, will be about $1.7 billion, down from $2.0 billion last year—while public spending will increase from $2.9 to $3.0 billion. Construction spending in Alaska in 2015 is expected to be strong in spite of the drop in the price of oil from more than $100 per barrel in the summer of 2014 to between $45 and $50 today. However, the longer the price stays low, the greater the risk that some projects will be cancelled or postponed. It is impossible to predict what will happen to the oil price, because world supply has outstripped demand. The price will stabilize, and perhaps begin to increase, only when the low price stimulates more demand and eliminates high cost production, a process that could take more than a year. A further complication is the unpredictability of the role of OPEC in determining oil supply. In particular Saudi Arabia, the largest producer, could decide to restrict supply for political or strategic reasons. Because of the drop in the price of oil, the state is facing a general fund budget deficit of about $3 billion for the current fiscal year (FY2015) and is projected to have a similar deficit in FY2016 (which begins July 1 of this year). However, this will not have a large negative impact on state government construction spending this year for several reasons.
    • 2016 Alaska's Construction Spending Forecast

      Goldsmith, Oliver Scott; Cravez, Pamela (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2016-01-01)
      The total value of construction spending “on the street” in Alaska in 2016 will be $7.3 billion, down 18% from 2015.1,2,3 Oil and gas sector spending will fall 25% to $3.1 billion from its record level of $4.2 billion last year. All other construction spending will be $4.2 billion, a decline of 11% from $4.7 billion last year. Private spending, excluding oil and gas, will be about $1.4 billion, down 24% from $1.8 billion last year—while public spending will decline 6% to $2.8 billion from $2.9 billion. Wage and salary employment in the construction industry, which increased an estimated 6 percent last year to almost 18,000, will decline slightly in 2016.4 The decline in construction spending in Alaska in 2016 can be traced directly to the precipitous drop in the price of oil over the last 18 months, after the previous period of unprecedented high prices a few years earlier. In mid- 2014 the price was above $110 per barrel, but as this report is being written the price has fallen below $30 for the first time in 12 years. Furthermore, the short-term outlook is for the price to remain low, or even decline further, because supply continues to outstrip demand and inventories continue to accumulate. The longer term outlook for price also continues to fall, because of the resilience of production in the face of the falling price. The high price stimulated increases in construction spending across all sectors of the Alaska economy, particularly among oil and gas companies and the state government. The low price is now beginning to reduce construction spending within the economy, except for federal spending and spending by basic industries that benefit from lower oil prices. So far the price drop has been felt most directly in the oil and gas sector. Although many companies announced optimistic investment programs for 2016, most, if not all, have recently announced cutbacks or postponements. The longer the price remains low, the greater the likelihood of further cutbacks in the oil patch. Because of the oil price drop, a deficit of $2 billion opened in the state general fund in FY2014, and it has increased to $3.5 billion for each of the last two years. Although the state has been fortunate to have sufficient cash reserves to offset this revenue shortfall in the short term, it has meant a dramatic decline in new state funding for capital projects. Whereas the general fund capital appropriation in FY2013 was more than $2 billion, in this past year it was only enough to cover the required match on federal transportation grants. And looking ahead, there is very little prospect for a significant increase in the capital budget in the coming years. But the sharp decline in the state capital budget over the last three years has so far had limited effects on construction spending. This is because it takes considerable time for appropriated funds to become “cash on the street.” Several billion dollars of capital appropriations remain “in the pipeline,” which will keep state spending from falling dramatically this year. However, the amount of construction spending will be winding down in many communities like Juneau, Kodiak, and Fairbanks (excluding Eielson Air Force Base) because of declining state spending. Because of the size of the state budget deficit, it is possible that some projects in the pipeline that have not yet been approved could be cancelled. However, this will be moderated by concern over the negative impacts on the economy from such cancellations. Spending for national defense will be higher this year. And fortunately, federal spending not related to defense—mostly consisting of grants, both to the state for transportation (roads, harbors, railroad and ferry system) and sanitation projects and to non-profits for health facilities and housing—is not sensitive to the price of oil. Since 2013 the Alaska economy has underperformed compared with the national average in spite of the stimulus of high oil prices that led to record high levels of employment in the oil and gas and construction sectors. Job growth has been less than 1% annually and is forecast to be negative in 2016. State population has not increased in the last two years. This slowdown, combined with the heightened uncertainty about the future direction of the economy, brought on by the sudden fall in the oil price, will slow new private investment—particularly in the commercial and residential construction sectors as investors adopt a “wait and see” attitude, in regard to both the private economy and the ability of the state government to deal with the deficit. The decline in private construction spending this year is also partially due to the completion of a number of large utility and hospital projects. As in past years, some firms are reluctant to reveal their investment plans, because they don’t want to alert competitors; also, some have not completed their 2016 planning. Large projects often span two or more years, so estimating “cash on the street” in any year is always difficult because the construction “pipeline” never flows in a completely predictable fashion. Tracing the path of federal spending coming into Alaska without double counting is also a challenge, and because of the complexity of the state capital budget, it is always difficult to follow all the flows of state money into the economy. We are confident in the overall pattern of the forecast. However, as always, we can expect some surprises as the year progresses.
    • 2017 Alaska's Construction Spending Forecast

      Goldsmith, Oliver Scott; Cravez, Pamela (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-01-01)
      The total value of construction spending “on the street” in Alaska in 2017 will be $6.5 billion, down 10% from 2016.1, 2,3 Oil and gas sector spending will fall 15% to $2.4 billion, from $2.9 billion last year. All other construction spending will be $4.0 billion, a decline of 7% from $4.3 billion last year. Private spending, excluding oil and gas, will be about $1.6 billion, up 2% from last year—while public spending will decline 12% to $2.5 billion. Wage and salary employment in the construction industry, which dropped by 8.5% in 2016 to 16.2 thousand, will drop another 7.4% in 2017 to 15 thousand, the lowest level in more than a decade.n 2016 the Alaska economy slipped into a recession that is expected to continue at least through 2017. Total wage and salary employment fell in 2016 by 6.8 thousand, about 2%. This year it is anticipated the decline will be 7.5 thousand, or 2.3%, which will return the economy to the 2010 level.5. Weakness in the economy is also reflected in a net outmigration of population over the last four years.
    • Alaska Justice Forum ; Vol. 13, No. 3 (Fall 1996)

      Erlich, Richard; Bureau of Justice Statistics; Cravez, Pamela (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 1996-09-01)
      The Fall 1996 issue of the Alaska Justice Forum leads with a discussion of the particularities of justice system issues in the Northwest Arctic Borough based on historical evidence, research and personal observations made from Judge Richard Erlich’s experience as a long-term resident and Superior Court judge in Kotzebue. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports on criminal victimization in the United States in 1994. The Joint State-Federal Courts Gender Equality Task Force reports on its three-year investigation into gender bias in Alaska state and federal courts, finding that sex-related bias affects not only litigants, witnesses, lawyers, employees, and judges with regard to process, but also with regard to the substantial outcome of cases.
    • Alaska Justice Forum ; Vol. 34, No. 1 (Summer 2017)  

      Rosay, André B.; Cravez, Pamela (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-07-14)
      The Summer 2017 print edition of the Alaska Justice Forum features articles on psychological and physical abuse against women in Alaska who are aged 60 or older and on the consequences of Alaska's lack of capacity to treat mental illness in the community. An editor's note describes changes to the publication and invites online subscriptions. The Summer 2017 online edition includes expanded versions of print stories, an additional story on a collaborative problem-solving process involving liquor stores in an Anchorage neighborhood and a farewell from André B. Rosay, who served as Justice Center director from 2007 to 2017.
    • Alaska Justice Forum ; Vol. 34, No. 2 (Fall 2017)

      Myrstol, Brad A.; Cravez, Pamela; Payne, Troy C.; UAA Justice Center (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-10-18)
      The Fall 2017 print edition of the Alaska Justice Forum features two stories on crime rates — in relation to criminal justice reform and in relation to police staffing — that caution using crime rates as a single factor to determine policy. A story on Crisis Intervention Teams shows how specialized responses are helping law enforcement deal with calls from individuals with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. The Fall 2017 online edition includes expanded versions of print stories and a video (with transcript) on property crime rates in Alaska.
    • Alaska Justice Forum ; Vol. 34, No. 3 (Winter 2018) 

      Cravez, Pamela; Valle, Araceli; Fox, Geri; UAA Justice Center (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-01-16)
      The Winter 2018 print edition of the Alaska Justice Forum features articles on evidence-based practices that have been incorporated into Alaska's criminal justice system: a new pretrial risk assessment tool designed to calculate a defendant's risk of failure to appear at trial or of committing another crime if released pretrial; and the Alaska Results First benefit cost analysis of established evidence-based programs designed to reduce recidivism. The Results First analysis also provides a new eight-year study of recidivism rates in Alaska. The Winter 2018 online edition includes expanded versions of print stories and a video (with transcript) which further describes Alaska's new pretrial risk assessment tool.
    • Alaska Justice Forum ; Vol. 34, No. 4 (Spring 2018)  

      Myrstol, Brad A.; Cravez, Pamela; UAA Justice Center (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-04-02)
      The Spring 2018 print edition of the Alaska Justice Forum features articles on Village Public Safety Officers (VPSOs) as first responders in sexual abuse of a minor and sexual assault cases, findings from the 2014–2015 Alaska Victimization Survey for the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands, Alaska's progress on the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, and a review of a book on the Sequential Intercept Model, which offers conceptual points at which a person with serious mental illness could be diverted from the criminal justice system. The Spring 2018 online edition includes expanded versions of print stories.
    • Alaska Justice Forum ; Vol. 35, No. 1 (Summer 2018)

      UAA Justice Center; Cravez, Pamela; Williams, Paula (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-07-16)
      The Summer 2018 print edition of the Alaska Justice Forum focuses on environmental justice, exploring the ongoing challenges of cleaning up contaminated sites in Alaska in terms of the costs of cleanup and long-term impacts upon people and the environment. Alaska is ranked third in the U.S. for Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) properties. Most of these properties are in remote locations, placing a disproportionate impact on Alaska Native communities that depend upon environmental resources for their livelihood. This issue also looks at expanded eligibility and increased limits on Brownfields Program funds, which provide monies for assessment and cleanup of contaminants on property targeted for redevelopment. The Summer 2018 online edition includes all print stories, one of which has been expanded.
    • Alaska Pretrial Risk Assessment Tool (Transcript)

      Fox, Geri; Cravez, Pamela (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-01-16)
      [This is a transcript of a video presentation, which can be found at https://youtu.be/wYEP3wDnVVQ.] Geri Fox, Director of the Pretrial Enforcement Division of the Alaska Department of Corrections, is interviewed by Pamela Cravez, editor of the Alaska Justice Forum, about the advantages and limitiations of Alaska’s new pretrial risk assessment tool. The tool, incorporated in Alaska’s new bail statute, calculates whether a defendant is at low, moderate, or high risk for failure to appear at trial or to commit another crime if the defendant is released pretrial, and aids in the judge's decision regarding pretrial bail conditions.
    • Alaska's Evidence-Based Investment (editor's note)

      Cravez, Pamela (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-01-16)
      Pamela Cravez, editor of the Alaska Justice Forum, gives an overview of articles in the Winter 2018 edition, which focuses on evidence-based practices that have been incorporated into Alaska's criminal justice system.
    • Alaska’s Lack of Psychiatric Beds and Consequences

      Cravez, Pamela (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-07-14)
      Patients experiencing psychiatric emergencies referred to Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) in Anchorage must frequently must wait four to six days before being admitted. API, with 80 beds, is the state’s sole psychiatric hospital and provider of inpatient services. Two additional Designated Evaluation and Treatment (DET) hospitals — Fairbanks Memorial Hospital (20 beds) and Juneau’s Bartlett Regional Hospital (12 beds) — provide care for acute psychiatric emergencies. According to a recent privatization report there is no infrastructure in Alaska to support longer, more complex intervention as a routine form of inpatient treatment. This has not always been the case. This article traces the history of Alaska mental health policy and discusses the consequences of the lack of capacity to treat mental illness in the community, including growing numbers entering the corrections system.
    • The Biggest Damned Hat: Tales from Alaska's Territorial Lawyers and Judges

      Cravez, Pamela (University of Alaska Anchorage. Bookstore, 2017-04-13)
      The Biggest Damned Hat presents a fascinating collection of stories ranging from the gold rush to the 1950s. Based upon legal research, oral histories, and interviews of more than 50 lawyers who came to Alaska prior to 1959, it provides new stories and perspectives on Alaska history from gold rush times to statehood. Pamela Cravez is editor of the Alaska Justice Forum and research associate at the UAA Justice Center. She holds a J.D. from the Catholic University School of Law and an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Her articles about the territorial years have appeared in the Alaska Law Review, Alaska Journal, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Journal of Commerce and Anchorage Times.
    • The Case for Strengthening Education in Alaska

      Hill, Alexandra; Gorsuch, Lee; Cravez, Pamela (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2006)
      Alaska’s public education system has been transformed since Alaska became a state. Opportunities for education have been expanded in many ways and many places. But at every level, from pre-school on up, the education systems in Alaska and the U.S. have serious troubles. Many American children don’t have access to early education; can’t do math and science as well as those in other countries; can’t pass basic reading, writing, and math tests; and don’t finish high school. Boys are less likely than girls to go on to college. And in Alaska, there are fewer early-education programs than nationwide. Elementary and high-school students— especially Alaska Natives and those from low-income families—are falling below U.S. averages. Since statehood, Alaska’s education system has grown and improved enormously. But the remaining challenges are also very big. Alaska has the resources to deal with those challenges, and some efforts are in fact already underway. The question now for all Alaskans—not only educators and parents—is this: how do we come together to create what our state and our children need?
    • The Cost of Teacher Turnover in Alaska

      DeFeo, Dayna Jean; Tran, Trang; Hirshberg, Diane; Cope, Dale; Cravez, Pamela (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-03-31)
      Low teacher retention - high turnover - affects student learning. Teacher recruitment and retention are challenging issues in Alaska. Rates vary considerably from district to district and year to year, but between 2004 and 2014, district-level teacher turnover in rural Alaska averaged 20%, and about a dozen districts experienced annual turnover rates higher than 30%. High turnover rates in rural Alaska are often attributed to remoteness and a lack of amenities (including healthcare and transportation); teachers who move to these communities face additional challenges including finding adequate housing and adjusting to a new and unfamiliar culture and environment. Though urban districts have lower teacher turnover rates, they also have challenges with teacher recruitment and retention, particularly in hard-to-fill positions (such as special education and secondary mathematics) and in difficult-to-staff schools. Annually, Alaskan school districts hire about 1,000 teachers (500-600 are hired by its five largest districts), while Alaska’s teacher preparation programs graduate only around 200. The costs associated with teacher turnover in Alaska are considerable, but have never been systematically calculated,1 and this study emerged from interests among Alaska education researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders to better understand these costs. Using data collected from administrators in 37 of Alaska’s 54 districts, we describe teacher turnover and the costs associated with it in four key categories: separation, recruitment, hiring, and induction and training. Our calculations find that the total average cost of teacher turnover is $20,431.08 per teacher. Extrapolating this to Alaska’s 2008-2012 turnover data, this constitutes a cost to school districts of approximately $20 million per year. We focused on costs to Alaskan school districts, rather than costs to individual communities, schools, or the state. Our calculation is a conservative estimate, and reflects typical teacher turnover circumstances - retirement, leaving the profession, or moving to a new school district. We did not include unusual circumstances, such as mid-year departures or terminations. Our cost estimate includes costs of separation, recruitment, hiring, and orientation and training, and excludes the significant costs of teacher productivity and teacher preparation. We suggest that not all turnover is bad, nor are all turnover costs; and emphasize the need to focus on teacher retention as a goal, rather than reducing turnover costs. Even with conservative estimates, teacher turnover is a significant strain on districts’ personnel and resources, and in an era of shrinking budgets, teacher turnover diverts resources from teaching and learning to administrative processes of filling teacher vacancies. Our recommendations include: • Better track teacher turnover costs • Explore how to reduce teacher turnover costs • Support ongoing research around teacher turnover and its associated costs • Explore conditions driving high teacher turnover, and how to address them
    • Crime Rates and Alaska Criminal Justice Reform

      Myrstol, Brad A.; Cravez, Pamela (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-10-18)
      Definitive conclusions about the impact of Senate Bill 91 on the rate of property crimes in Alaska are not possible for a number of reasons, including that the most current data cover less than six months following implementation of the first phase of the law. Accompanying figures show rates of incidents of shoplifting, motor vehicle theft, burglary, and larceny theft reported to police in 1985–2016.
    • Crisis Intervention Teams Assist Law Enforcement

      Cravez, Pamela (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-10-18)
      The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is a police-based, first responders’ pre-arrest jail diversion model for individuals with mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder. A new CIT coalition is being developed in Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The online version of the article also includes additional information about specialized police responses.
    • The Economics of University Research

      Cravez, Pamela; Goldsmith, Scott (2004)
      Alaska ranks near the bottom among the states in the total amount of R&D activity. Most research in Alaska is conducted by the University of Alaska and directly by the federal government, and very little is done by industry. Alaska ranks 47th among the states in total research, 50th in industry research, and 42nd in University research (Table 2). Alaska’s performance is better in per capita terms, but spending on R&D per person is only half the U.S. average. Only federal R&D is above the per capita U.S. average. In terms of the “intensity” of R&D spending (R&D/Gross Product), Alaska is ranked number 41. About 1 percent of Alaska Gross State Product is devoted to R&D spending. The small amount of private industry spending on R&D in Alaska is due to several factors. The first is the absence of manufacturing industry within the state, except for seafood processing. Second is the dominance of the public sector within the economy both in terms of jobs and resource ownership. Third is the absence of Alaska based resource businesses large enough to financially support investments in R&D. Finally, Alaska has not been an attractive location for private research facilities due to cost and distance from clients and customers. "
    • Editor's Note

      Cravez, Pamela (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-07-14)
      Pamela Cravez, new editor of the Alaska Justice Forum, announces changes to the publication, including an updated design and enhanced online presence.
    • Editor's Note

      Cravez, Pamela (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-10-18)
      Pamela Cravez, editor of the Alaska Justice Forum, gives an overview of articles in the current edition of the Alaska Justice Forum.