I’ve called on Governor Walker to look into selling the state-owned Kodiak rocket launch facility. That state-owned business has only launched two rockets (three if you count the one that caught fire – feds’ fault, not ours) in the last five years. That’s 1,825 days that a $225,000/year facility director has been paid to run a launch business that hasn’t launched a rocket, and three days he was paid to watch a rocket launch or catch fire. This is a slight exaggeration since the three launched rockets involved some prep time, although I honestly can’t see how this job is either full-time or worth the handsome salary. Great work for a former Anchorage Assemblyman if you can get it, I guess.
Let’s give you another measure of this facility’s “success”. He’s successfully pitched to get $58.5 million in state money with annual promises of new, lucrative long term launch contracts that never get signed. And his “business” has given nothing back. We’ve spent $1 million on the Rocket Launch chief’s salary in that time.
To the Governor’s credit, he is looking into possibly selling this “business” to a more efficient private sector buyer. If the annual fluffed promises from those who run this “business” someday become real (they’ve been fake for the past five years) then we should be able to sell this facility, get revenue for it, and reduce further budget bleeding. If they are not, and the private sector sees this project as a boondoggle, then it’s a private sector signal that it will continue to be a money loser. I guess I’m the conservative here. Let’s let the free market value this business. If it has value, let’s sell it. If it doesn’t, let’s stop wasting state money.
Every dollar this facility keeps losing is a dollar that cannot go into job training, education, child protection, safe streets, affordable renewable energy, road maintenance, and the one “mega-project” that makes sense in tight times – analyzing and moving forward with a large diameter pipeline that can bring affordable natural gas to Alaskans, with the excess sold in Asia for export and needed state revenue. I support the Governor’s work on this, and will as long as the project looks realistic.