As a 62 year old, lifelong Alaskan, I have rarely witnessed as much dysfunction in a legislative session as occurred in 2016. The inability of our elected representatives to craft a budget with even a glimpse of sustainability for the future was appalling. It made Vecogate pale in comparison.
The last thing we need are legislators towing the majority party line and being more focused on their re-election and fundraising success than the wellbeing of Alaska and its people. I’m heartened to see a restructuring of Alaska’s House of Representatives that may lead to smarter outcomes this time around than the last session.
I believe Alaska needs an income tax … the free ride must end. Having worked on the oil pipeline and other major construction projects since the 1970s, I’ve long felt eliminating the income tax was a mistake, especially with so many out-of-state workers taking advantage of our resource wealth and high-paying jobs and contributing little to the state infrastructure that makes that all possible. Changing the oil tax credit to better serve Alaska, as well as a state sales tax on large ticket purchases need to be considered as a part of Alaska’s revenue stream. And maintaining a robust PFD program for Alaska residents needs to continue to be part of this mix also.
I was very happy when Homer’s Republican Representative Paul Seaton joined with House Republicans Louise Stutes and Gabrielle Ledoux to build a House majority that is working to put Alaskans first. I will likely never applaud 100 percent of any legislative body’s work, but I am very encouraged by the thoughtfulness and forward thinking exhibited by Alaska’s current House of Representatives. Thank you, folks, for considering and discussing revenue and expense options that serve Alaskans and Alaska first.