The legislative session is wrapping up in Juneau and for the second year in a row our Legislature is hoping to close up shop without initiating any serious revenue additions.
Any Alaskan looking at our budget shortfall can see that we cannot solve the issue with cuts alone. Alaskans have testified in both the House and Senate finance committees of their willingness to pay an income tax.
The Rasmuson Foundation funded a statewide survey asking Alaskans what we thought needed to happen. Across the state, we were more likely to vote again for our legislators if they imposed both new revenue streams and cuts to the budget. Alaskans are willing to pay our fair share. We love our state and we want to help. Unfortunately, it seems our legislators don’t believe us.
Thanks to SB 21, our current deal for the oil companies has the state of Alaska paying out hundreds of millions more in tax credits to the oil companies than we make in production taxes, a mind boggling thing to consider.
Instead of focusing on any of this, the Legislature is spending their last days passing laws to make it harder for our governor to accept federal funds, laws that allow guns on our university campuses, and laws that won’t allow sex educators to come into our schools.
The majority of our legislators would apparently rather give our state more guns, more STD’s, more unwanted pregnancies, and less federal dollars than talk about how to keep our state functioning. This is an interesting prevention strategy as they simultaneously hack away at services for those in need.
Alaskans, we are getting a bad deal here. A solution like taxing our PFDs for four years is a short-sighted response to a long-term issue. The booming oil days are over and our Legislature is naive to think otherwise.
Gov. Bill Walker has said he will call a special session if the Legislature closes out without implementing a revenue strategy. He will need our help to make the Legislature follow through. Your legislators need to hear directly from you.
This is an election year. Tell them that if they don’t do something real and something long term, Alaskans will replace them with people who will.