Opinion: Please, tax us!

Opinion: Please, tax us!

Time to find new revenue to keep Alaska a wonderful place to raise families.

  • By SARA DYKSTRA
  • Wednesday, April 10, 2019 7:00am
  • Opinion

I represent Growing Alaskan Leaders, a group of over 100 parents who live and work in Alaska and who deeply love this state. We value diversity and personal freedom, and we know that helping each other is the Alaska way of life. We want an Alaska we can live in, raise our children in, and that will be even better for our children than it has been for us.

We are deeply concerned about the budget proposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the effect it would have not only on our children, but on our communities and the Alaska that we love. We know we are in a difficult fiscal situation — a recession with 39 straight months of job losses, and only a small amount left in the Constitutional Budget Reserve.

As a result, we strongly support taking a different approach.

Specifically, we believe we need new revenue to fund state government, including instituting a progressive income tax (which would be less harmful to families with children than cutting the PFD would be), and reexamining our oil tax credit system. Alaska offers so much to us and our families but we know it does not come for free. Not only do we want services for ourselves but we, as a group of Alaska families, strongly believe that all families and Alaskans should have access to those services.

[Opinion: Dunleavy presents convincing case on his budget during town hall]

This comes at a price and we are willing and wanting to pay the price. Please tax us.

We cannot have a functioning state if we are losing thousands of jobs, closing health care clinics due to the loss of federal Medicaid funds, and stripping away early childhood, K-12, health care access and social services. Our state constitution requires that we provide a free and adequate education for all children and the proposed budget would seriously undermine that requirement.

With our current funding, Alaska’s education system already is not competitive with other states. The proposed cuts to both our K-12 and university system would be devastating, and have long-term effects on our state and its residents.

Further, how well children do in school is predicted by their opportunities in the first five years of life. Currently, in a state with some of the least affordable child care and lowest preschool attendance, only 30 percent of our children are kindergarten-ready. We need to be increasing early childhood support (which research has found to have a $7-$17 return investment) rather than zeroing them out.

[Opinion: Dunleavy’s budget jeopardizes Alaska’s health and economy]

As parents of young children, we know how sensitive this period of brain development is, and how important state investment is at this age.

In addition, we are from communities all over Alaska, and stand with our sisters and brothers in rural Alaska who will be devastated by defunding the Alaska Marine Highway System, and the change to the power cost equalization fund. Children in rural Alaska deserve access to food, power and transportation, just as those in larger communities do.

We are actively working to support kids and families now, but we also want to ensure we have a state our kids want to live in once they’re adults. The governor’s budget will increase the brain drain that Alaska already experiences, and, as numerous nonpartisan economic analyses have found, will plunge us further into a recession.

The time is now to put Alaskans before politics, to stand up against the governor’s proposed budget and to create a budget that prioritizes healthy families and communities, supports successful schools and builds the basis for a healthy economy.

It’s also the time to start doing the hard work of finding new revenue to keep Alaska a wonderful place to raise our families.


• Sara Dykstra lives in Anchorage. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


More in Opinion

The Alaska Marine Highway ferry Malaspina heads up Lynn Canal towards Haines and Skagway from Juneau in 2008. (Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Rising freight costs continue to stifle Southeast economy

Adding trucking (via road) would place downward pressure on what many contend is a freight monopoly.

Web
Have something to say?

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

t
Opinion: Program gives me hope that cycles of family violence can be broken

The program is a holistic family-focused, culturally based counseling/treatment model…

Deven Mitchell greets his fellow members of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees at the start of his interview Monday to be the APFC’s new executive director. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: It’s an honor to now lead Alaska’s largest renewable resource

This October, I was provided the opportunity to serve as the Executive… Continue reading

t
Opinion: New to Medicare? Please consider this

Please choose “original” Medicare and avoid the so-called “advantage” plans

The Alaska State Capitol awaits a legislators forming new majority coalitions and the return of Gov. Mike Dunleavy after the winners of the general election were announced Wednesday. The Senate will have a 17-member bipartisan ruling coalition, while the House arrangement remains uncertain due to at least one likely recount and questions about partisan alignments. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The rising purple tide in the state Senate

A purple tide threatens to inundate the uncompromising wing of the state Republican Party.

t
Opinion: Giving is for everyone – and the time to act is now

You don’t have to be rich, or prominent, or famous to care about your community…

A roll of “I Voted” stickers await voters on Election Day in Alaska. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a state constitutional convention. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Election winners, losers and poor losers

Tshibaka and Palin misread Alaskans by thinking Trump’s endorsement all but guaranteed they’d win.

Most Read