Gov. Bill Walker has imposed one of the most regressive “taxes” in the history of Alaska by taking 50 percent of the Permanent Fund Dividend. Alaskans of all ages, not just the working class, were negatively affected. This “tax” effectively removed approximately $700 million per year from Alaska’s economy in favor of preserving the growth of a bloated state government.
Walker has refused to drop his intent to impose more taxes, including an income tax on working Alaskans and additional taxes on resource development, yet maintains that he has “saved” Alaska from fiscal calamity. The record shows otherwise.
Senate Bill 91 is on Walker’s shoulders; he signed it into law. In every category, crime has increased significantly. The following figures are from the state’s 2017 Crime Report. Comparisons are between 2013 and 2017. Violent crime is up 34 percent; property crime is up 22 percent; robbery is up 52 percent; assault, 36 percent; murder, 79 percent, rape, 16 percent; vehicle theft, 150 percent; burglary, 42 percent; and arson, 18 percent.
Losses from robbery for 2017 was $850,125; burglary, $10,488,919; from larceny, $15,309,131; and from vehicle theft, $34,102,492. The total estimated loss to victims of property crime in 2017 is $60,750,667.
Walker’s PFD “tax” has hit those in the lower income range hardest. For the lowest 20 percent income level, loss of $1,400 from the PFD represents a loss of 35 percent; lower-middle 20 percent, 18.1 percent; middle 20 percent, 10.2 percent; upper middle 20 percent, 6.1 percent; and the top 20 percent, 2.5 percet. The governor’s cut to the PFD hit lower and middle income families the hardest.
In an article dated July 10, CNBC rated Alaska as 50th, the worst state in the union for business; cost of doing business, 47th; and economic standing, 50th — dead last. The article stated that Alaska’s GDP growth was just 0.2 percent for 2017. First quarter foreclosures were up 170 percent from last year. Unemployment was reported as 7.2 percent in May 2018, the highest in the nation.
In 2013, Alaska’s overall business ranking, 44th; 2014-2015, 47th; 2016, 45th; 2017, 47th; 2018, 50th.
U.S News & World Report ranked Alaska at 48th in job growth, 45th in employment ranking, 49th in public safety standing; 50th in crime and corrections; 47th in fiscal stability; 49th in cost of energy; and 28th in Health Care standings.
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores cited ranked Alaska 46th in K-12 education scores, and 47th in high school graduation. 2018 scores for 4th and 8th grades show Alaska ranks 50th in 4th grade reading scores.
Alaska’s schools, with an average cost of $17,510 (2016) per pupil, are failing. In the bush, the cost per pupil rises to $30,000. The execution of the court ordered Molly Hootch decision that resulted in a school in every village has failed.
Over 99 percent of those in the bush 17-34 years of age are ineligible for military service of any sort, because of education and criminal records disqualifications. These facts and the epidemic of sexual and substance abuse in the villages point to a catastrophic disintegration of the family unit, morality and respect for the law and education. Do not forget, Anchorage is considered the state’s largest Alaska Native village.
As reported on Jan. 10, 2018 in the Juneau Empire, from 2016-2018, 8,885 people left Alaska representing the first decline in population since 1988. Job loss was estimated at 3,600 jobs between 2016-2017. Another 1,800 jobs are expected to be lost between 2017-2018.
In every sector studied, Alaska is either the lowest, or just about. Public safety and education ratings are embarrassments. Yet, we spend more per capita than any other state in the union.
Bill Walker does not deserve our confidence. He has failed as governor. His “independent” administration is an unmitigated disaster.
Mike Dunleavy will restore that confidence. His record shows that he serves the interest of Alaskans first, not government.
• Larry Wood is 64-year Alaska resident living on Lazy Mt.
• Larry Wood is 64-year Alaska resident living on Lazy Mt. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.