In this Jan. 15, 2019 photo, Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, left, and Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, relay a message to Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy in his Capitol office that the Senate is open and ready for business on the first day of the 31st Session of the Alaska Legislature. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

In this Jan. 15, 2019 photo, Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, left, and Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, relay a message to Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy in his Capitol office that the Senate is open and ready for business on the first day of the 31st Session of the Alaska Legislature. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: Pass Gov. Dunleavy’s constitutional amendments

They are the most important issue this legislative session.

  • By DICK RANDOLPH
  • Sunday, April 21, 2019 7:00am
  • Opinion

Here we go again. The difference this time, though, is we have a reasonable governor who is rationally trying to permanently resolve these reoccurring issues by enshrining them in the state constitution.

You’ll hear politicians, bureaucrats and special interests howling that this will restrict their ability to fund essential government services — nonsense. It will however provide discipline and require discussion with “We the People” to determine what essential services are, and how and by whom they should be efficiently provided.

To accomplish this, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has proposed three constitutional amendments. One would create a formula to put a cap on spending, another would require a vote of Alaskans to increase taxes, and finally, he would constitutionally guarantee the PFD.

I strongly support these amendments and urge every Alaskan who wants to put a lid on state government growth and preserve the PFD to get up off of your posteriors and go to work. You can help by aggressively encouraging your family and friends to do likewise. You can do this by becoming politically active on this one issue.

[Opinion: Creative solutions to Gov. Dunleavy’s bold vision for Alaska]

Passing Senate Joint Resolutions 4, 5 and 6 is the single most important issue our legislative representatives must pass this session. Your involvement is very critical, as it takes a two-thirds vote of each the House and Senate to pass them so we can vote on them in the next general election. That’s clearly a major challenge, but one we can and must do. Then all we have to do is to pass them with a majority vote and Alaska will be in a much better place.

Let’s briefly discuss each amendment.

First, the Permanent Fund is made up almost exclusively of royalty income — that is 12.5 percent of the value of the extracted oil. It is critically important to understand the royalty income rightly belongs to the people and should be distributed to them as equitably as possible, while the severance tax is rightly imposed by the state government and should be used to fund appropriate government services.

These are two distinctly different pots of money and should serve different purposes. Former Gov. Jay Hammond and I did not agree on the income tax repeal but we did agree that the royalty income does belong to the people directly. To quote Hammond in 1980 while discussing royalty income, “We are taking wealth that belongs to the people and making sure that at least some of it is funneled through their pockets instead of through their elected officials.”

[Opinion: Please, tax us!]

Hammond clearly understood that the dividend and ownership rights should be treated differently than tax revenue. He also strongly wanted a dividend provision in the original constitutional amendment establishing Permanent Fund legislation, but the Legislature would not go along so he had to drop it — too bad so sad.

It’s accurate to say that back in the 1980s, Hammond and I both wanted the PFD enshrined in the constitution. I still do and would like to think that he would also. Let’s do it now — we’ve waited long enough.

Next, a constitutional spending limit. This was approved in the early 1980s, but it was literally a joke. The Legislature was reacting to strong public opposition to their spending spree, and to pacify the peasants, they created a spending limit title, but they knew the formula was so high that it would never be activated. I was there and saw them literally joking and laughing about pulling a fast one on the people. Let’s pass the governor’s spending limit, which is calculated to work.

Lastly and very importantly, let’s constitutionally protect our right to vote on any new taxes. Many jurisdictions require voter approval on tax increases as it is a traditional American concept.

We can make this happen. Make your opinion known to one and all, particularly your legislators. Tell them you just want the opportunity to vote on them. Getting these three constitutional amendments passed through the Legislature is the most important issue before us this session.

Let’s just do it.


• Dick Randolph lives in Fairbanks. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


More in Opinion

Web
Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

Downtown Juneau in late October of 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Mitigating the loss of tax revenue from cruise ship free Saturdays

The cruise ship free Saturday initiative presents us with a modified lesson… Continue reading

Leaders at Bartlett Regional Hospital listen to comments from residents during a forum Monday about proposed cuts to some services. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
My Turn: Bartlett board faces challenges

Once upon a time, Alaska’s capital had a well-run municipal hospital, but… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Letter: SEARHC’s goals seem likely to limit, rather than expand, health options in Juneau

Max Mertz’s comments at the Bartlett Regional Hospital public forum about SEARHC’s… Continue reading

Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30. (Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times)
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

“Alaska Republicans back Trump after historic conviction in hush money case,” the… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Letter: Allow locals to have their town back once a week during the summer

Perhaps Nate Vallier shrugs when he sees eagles and bears (My Turn,… Continue reading

Juneau School District administrators and board members listen to a presentation about the district’s multi-million deficit during a Jan. 9 meeting. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: School board recall not a cure for ‘failure to thrive’

Decline happens over time. Kinda like the way we gain weight and… Continue reading

Two skiers settle into a lift chair as they pass trees with fresh snow at Eaglecrest Ski Area on Dec. 20, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: Eaglecrest Ski Area attempting to do too much without sensible leadership

Ever wonder what the 50-year-old clearcut above the beginner slopes at Eaglecrest… Continue reading

A Carnival cruise ship is berthed Juneau’s cruise ship docks during the summer of 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Ignoring the consequences of ship-free Saturdays?

Backers of a cruise initiative to block large cruise ships from docking… Continue reading

Juneau School District administrators and board members review the updated budget for the current fiscal year during a Board of Education meeting April 16 at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: School board recall is about more than ‘angry moms set on being vengeful’

It’s time to set the record straight about the school board recall.… Continue reading

The 1,094-foot-long Norwegian Bliss docks in Juneau on April 9 to begin this year’s cruise ship season. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: Consider the far-reaching and harmful consequences of Saturday cruise ship ban

The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council expresses our strong support for Protect… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Letter: Don’t believe doom-and-gloom predictions for ship-free Saturdays

As a 54-year resident of Juneau I have seen the summer cruise… Continue reading