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Thursday, November 23, 2017
HomePoliticsMallott to Alaskans: We need taxes, or we’ll be a colony

Mallott to Alaskans: We need taxes, or we’ll be a colony

In an opinion placed in the Alaska Dispatch News, Alaska’s lieutenant governor makes the case for taxing the working class in Alaska. His opinion is an excerpt from his speech at Alaska Federation of Natives that he gave on Oct. 19. Here is the opinion in full:

By LT. GOV. BYRON MALLOTT

We need to have a serious conversation about our fiscal crisis.

Hawkins

Over the last three years, the Legislature has drawn down over $14 billion of Alaska’s financial reserves. With oil prices expected to stay essentially where they are, we won’t get that money back anytime soon. We are down to the last of those reserves — barely $2.5 billion — as we go into the 2018 Legislature and the budget we must present to Alaskans. Gov. Bill Walker has called the Legislature into special session multiple times over the last two years to pass a complete plan. The plan he presented — a complete plan — would have allowed us to close that gap in the first Legislature of his service. Instead, we find ourselves on the precipice of disaster.

As we get ready to go into next week’s special session, there are phrases that ring in my ears that shake me to my soul. We’ve reduced government spending to 2008 levels; state spending is so minimal that we are now in a recession. But we continue to hear assertions that we “have a bloated state budget.”

This phrase comes from some members of the Alaska legislative leadership. But the facts on the ground are in stark contrast to those assertions. We do not have the public safety services that we need. In rural Alaska, we’ve had a young person be murdered and laid in a rock quarry covered by a tarp for four days because police could not get there to begin the process of trying to bring a perpetrator to justice.

Where is the bloated budget to deal with that?

The educational achievement of our schools has so much that is needed to improve, despite the gains we have made.

Where is the bloated budget to deal with those issues?

Nationally and in our state, we’re dealing with a massive opioid crisis.

Where is the bloated budget to deal with a crisis ripping families and communities apart?

Many Alaska coastal communities are served by the Alaska Marine Highway System — the only lifeline those communities have. They are as much a part of Alaska as any urban center. This past year, their budget was short-funded by $24 million, which suggests that a significant part of that service could have to go away.

We have worked hard to reduce inefficiency in government — and we’ll continue to do so. But simply cutting and waiting is not the answer.

We hear people say, “No new taxes until the government has right-sized itself.” Let’s not use that as an excuse to do nothing. The question we must ask is: What kind of Alaska do we want to have in the future?

If we do not resolve Alaska’s fiscal crisis in this special session, and the 2018 session, you will see this:

You will see us having spent the last of our reserves. You will see those who want a minimal government having achieved it simply by doing nothing. You will not have had a vision such as what Gov. Walker has put forward that is built on values and prosperity. It includes a sense of shared purpose, and a desire to make Alaska the kind of place we know it can become. A place where economic development occurs, but is done with balance and respect for the land.

So, don’t just tell us, “reduce the budget.” Tell us how. If government is so bloated, tell us how we’re going to deal with the opioid crisis, make our people feel safe and uphold justice statewide. Tell us how we are going to have health services across the state that meet our needs, and invest in our infrastructure, ports, schools, public buildings, roads and, yes, our ferry system. Tell us how we can build an Alaska that gives our children opportunity.

We will either have that, or we will be a colony. It’s that simple.

Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott is a co-founder of the Alaska Federation of Natives. This op-ed appeared in the Alaska Dispatch News as an excerpt from Mallott’s  Oct. 19 AFN address. The speech is available here.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Alaska is already a colony, because the oil industry does not pay any taxes to Alaska.

    • Earl Richards, you sound like an echo of Lt.Gov Mallott, speaking untruths. Surely, you do know that the oil companies pay royalties to the state. Oil companies pay tax on their infrastructure. Oil companies pay tax on their income. Do you know that or do you just spout inaccuracies and untruths?

      • This all returned to them with the$700 million per year tax credit.

  • What we need in this State is to be able to develop and harvest our natural resources. That is what our Statehood contract was based upon. New money will bring relief to the dwindling recirculating old money. New development will take time and effort, and a government in support. It seems odd that Lt. Gov Mallot, who oversaw the Permanent Fund for years does not see the light.

    Thanks for posting Suzanne.

  • To some our resources are their personal savings account.
    They will not be pro development until all commerce has been taxed out of Alaska and everyone but them has been forced to move out of state.

  • Bloodsucking and bloodletting both are unhealthy… Do they need the money for a good reason? Hell no… They are the worst type of addict ,, And I know their Mothers and Fathers taught them to value a dollar… They have lost all sense,,
    And now they are the greedy Gollum in lust of more Ring,,, The Govt begging literally makes me sick,,, There will never be enough,,,, quit begging and tighten up your belt,,, we are all heading for skinnyville…. being blind to reality wont pass as you know better,,, it is common sense time Alaska we need to realize that now,,,,

  • Any taxes should be voted on by the people not the government. We are tired of these greedy people imposing taxes and taking our PFD’s. Taxes will hurt all of the people who already pay excessive federal taxes.

  • Alaska has always been a colony. Mallott is wrong, we don’t need an income tax here.

    The state of Alaska sitting on over 600,000 acres of land that it sells off in 5 acre chunks. 5 acres in Alaska is useless to anyone except for recreational cabins.

    The average size of a cattle ranch in British Columbia is 1,000 acres. And there are quite a few of them. Release the land to people who want to create farms and ranches or any other business where they can turn a profit.

    There is no reason why Alaska cannot be independent, no reason except for people like those we find in Juneau.

    As with most problems, the answer isn’t more government. The answer is less.

  • You cant fix stupid, but you can vote it out of office.

    • 🙏🙏🙏🙏

  • I read this in the paper this morning and it does not make much sense. There is a grammatical error in the fourth paragraph. The Lt. Governor apparently has not spent much time looking at the actual line items in the State budget. If he had, he would understand that spending on education and Medicaid are completely out of line with the spending of other states for such programs. Absent changes, Medicaid ALONE will bankrupt the State of Alaska in a few years. Message to the Lt. Governor and the NEA: Unless Medicaid is changed and controlled, it will slowly take the money that is provided for the fancy school system.

    No good reason has been presented for taking money from Alaskans that work for living through an income tax to support those that refuse to work.

    I am disappointed with the Lt. Governor’s lack of scholarship on this issue.

  • “state spending is so minimal that we are now in a recession”

    And there it is in a nutshell.
    Socialists and big government enthusiasts actually believe that the government can tax and spend their way to prosperity.
    Palin believed it too, it’s why she endorsed this clown show ticket.

    Socialists think that of only they can remove enough money from the private sector (through taxation)…….then the economy will boom.

    We can’t be rid of this administration soon enough.

  • Mallot is a racist. He knows that payroll taxes will be paid by those with jobs. And rural Alaska will get a free ride. Mallot and Walker are disgusting.

  • Why is it that, prior to the big boom in oil prices, Alaska’s government was able to get along just fine? It’s because government was at least attempting to live within its means. Growing the government during a time of fiscal excess was foolish, and now that reality has set in, we’re supposed to sacrifice so the foolishness can continue. Our temporary representatives are afraid to cut the size of government because too many state employees are union members, and our temporary representatives are afraid of the union…they put their own political well-being ahead of the well-being of the state and its citizens.

  • Just Wondering
    With tribal governments being granted sovereignty by the walker attorney general, would tribal members be exempt from being taxed.

  • No we don’t need more taxation. Our elected official don’t have the right to IMPOSE taxes. This is something that the people need to vote on. What we need to do is remove officials who add hardships to families who already pay for those officials per diem and other frivilous crap!