Juneau spoke: 'We want taxes, less dividend' - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, September 23, 2021
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Juneau spoke: ‘We want taxes, less dividend’

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FIRST HOUSE FINANCE HEARING BRINGS DOZENS TO MIC

If Juneau has any say in it, there will be a progressive state income tax, smaller or no Permanent Fund dividends, and government that is about the same or bigger.

Sixty-eight people testified Friday night in the first of the House Finance Committee’s series of traveling public hearings that will pop up across the state this weekend.

Some said that the Dunleavy budget was amoral, that it would force them to leave the state, and that they support funding for education, health care, and ferries.

Friday’s hearing occurred on a beautiful Spring evening in Juneau, and some speakers noted that they thought twice about coming to testify on such a rare evening, when many would choose to enjoy the lengthening days. But they came to the Capitol anyway, out of love for the way of life they have and concern for their family’s future.

Helen Alten of Haines said that if the budget cuts go through, her family will have to move from Haines because her job as the director of the Haines Shelson museum would be cut, and she’s the sole supporter of her family, which includes her disabled husband who cannot work. Lesley Lyman, a retired teacher, likened the budget cuts to hacking up a human body, and Marc Wheeler, a business owner, said he could already see the effect of threatened cuts on his coffee shop, as uncertainty clouds the horizon. Heather Parker was concerned that people won’t have access to health care and will actually die.

“This is a self-created crisis, and there’s a solution. Invest in Alaska,” she said.

Many of those who testified expressed appreciation for the opportunity to voice their opinions on the budget proposed by Gov. Dunleavy, which matches the actual revenues the state has, and is $1.6 billion smaller than the budget paying for state services in the current fiscal year.

The hearings continue around the state this weekend according to this schedule:

Ketchikan: Saturday, March 23 from 12-3 p.m. in Ted Ferry Civic Center, 888 Venentia Avenue, Ketchikan

Mat-Su: Saturday, March 23 from 12-4 p.m. at the Mat-Su LIO, 600 E. Railroad Avenue, Wasilla

Bethel: Saturday, March 23 from 2-5 p.m. at the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center, 401 Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway, Bethel

Kenai: Saturday, March 23 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Soldotna Sports Center, 538 Arena Avenue, Soldotna

Anchorage: Sunday, March 24 from 2-5 p.m. at the Anchorage LIO, 1500 W. Benson Boulevard, Anchorage

Sitka: Sunday, March 24 from 2-5 p.m. at Centennial Hall Assembly Chambers, 330 Harbor Drive, Sitka

Fairbanks: Sunday, March 24 from 2-5 p.m. at the Fairbanks LIO, 1292 Sadler Way, Suite 308, Fairbanks

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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

  • Want more taxes and less dividend? Move to Seattle!

    • Amen my thoughts exactly.

    • +1 Randy…

      We do not need a State Income Tax.

      Lower the PFD and maybe adjust the Gas Tax upward, but definitely do not implement a State Income Tax…

      Talk about an Exodus… No State taxation is one of the reasons I moved here!

    • Isn’t Anchorage actually just North Seattle?

    • Crazy. These people have no clue what the PFD is. And more taxes? Ridiculous

  • Let them leave — they are transplants anyway. No tears here.

  • Every single one of the locals demanding taxes has the ability to write the State of Alaska a check. None of them ever do. And they can all refuse to accept the PFD. Yet none of them do. Rather, they want their grubby little fingers in your wallet and in mine, where those grubby little fingers don’t belong. Cheers –

    • Say agimark, what do you say about an income tax that gives a credit against that tax of the PFD? Of course the only way such a tax benefits the General Fund is for it’s rate to be high enough to offset all the PFD credits taken against it.
      This taxes all those who work in AK and live elsewhere yet they would not get the PFD credit, either.
      What’s not to like about this??

  • These testimonies DO NOT represent the community. They represent an organized group of people who are outspoken and active (activ-ists). Reminds me of a saying, “Just because you’re getting louder, doesn’t mean you’re getting any more correct”.

    Of course some will be affected by this budget. It’s time for government employees to learn what the private sector has known and lived by: grow in good years, shrink in lean years. It’s unfortunate those who want to save their jobs don’t care if taxes are added to others who have already gone through this process, many times. I WANT and don’t care if you pay is very revealing. “Invest in Alaska?” Never, Never, Never think paying more taxes is investing in a state. This is akin to communism/socialism/etc.

    • Bravo! Well stated.

    • I believe it was representative, were you there to express your belief that the people present were advocating for communism? Can you define “socialism” in this context? Your PFD is a government handout, are you returning them because it’s akin to socialism? Didn’t think so. Social security check, returning that too no doubt. Used your medicare?
      It isn’t all about State employees either, it is about Alaskans and the path forward. Before oil, we all worked together to grow this State, we lived within our means. We paid a school tax from our first payroll check every year, we paid an income tax to invest in our new State. Expanding and shrinking government is a bad idea and and huge waste of money that otherwise would be spent on critical needs. Alaskans should decide what an acceptable level of government is for the size of this State/people and fund it. The up and down again is a waste of money, valuable resources and time.

      These same AFP people went into Kansas and decimated the State.
      Their great experiment of low or no taxes and way less government was a colossal failure. And we want to now hand them the keys to our State, to try it again on us and at our peril? Really??

      We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.

      • Mark, the PFD is not a handout. It was developed to give Alaskans a share of the oil rights in the state they call home. And, social security is not an entitlement! I have paid into it since I was 16 yrs old. Oh, and by the way, I pay for Medicare insurance out of my Social Security benefits every month! One last comment, I have lived in Alaska since 1962. I know about working together and living within my means. I want to do my share to support our great state but it too neads to live within its means!

        • Well said Miss Karin

    • Paying taxes is communist/socialist? Better let the Feds know. The PFD has been a fairly successful Socialist endeavor for 30+ years. Don’t tell me about your state owned corporation. LOL

    • Pfd are a government hand out… work.. pay your taxes…. wouldn’t have a budget problem if we invest in Alaska and not big oil that’s basically has left us high and dry.

  • Yes, well, you can bet your bottom dollar (and I mean it) those folks don’t realize that the Governor’s use of the OMB’s forecasting for the 3 legislative options: 1) Take the PFD, 2) Take the ERA, 3) Tax and Spend, I’ve been told that they ALL result in a 25% increase in spending when Alaska’s population increase year-over-year hasn’t been over 30% since the pipeline days.

  • Well there you go … You heard from the people of Alaska. I’ll bet that every person who testified had a personal fiduciary interest in maintaining this UNSUSTAINABLE juggernaut of a state budget. Even the coffee shop owner likely has a close relative vested in the government trough. If these people who testified feel comfortable paying more taxes and giving up their PFD … Then I’m thinking they are making a VERY comfortable income that is typically derived from the UNSUSTAINABLE government trough. That smacks of SELF serving, SELF centered, selfish UNSUSTAINABLE trough feeders that don’t really give a damn about those who are “most vulnerable”. Those are the people who will be hurt the most of course by the trough feeders strategies to maintain their UNSUSTAINABLE Very Comfortable incomes. As AGIMARC stated … Let them write a check to the State of Alaska and refuse to accept their PFD. THAT will NEVER happen … talk is easy .. Isn’t it all you trough feeders. If Alaska can’t cut it’s UNSUSTAINABLE budget … Then at least cut several of the self serving trough feeders out of the Bloated Bureaucracy.

  • What a dog and pony show this budget debauchery has turned into…
    Want a balanced budget Alaskans?
    Cut the ENTIRE budget by 10 percent.
    An across the board cut in salaries, oil taxes, pensions and “pet projects” would save the state around 1.3 Billion dollars…
    Colleges and state ferries would remain “open for business” as well as Medicare expansion and public safety funding.
    Any attempt at “surgical” reductions only leaves us with one sided arguments to follow….
    This is not fair to residents, business owners, teachers, state employees or retired pension folks (many of whom have left the state and no longer pay property taxes or collect a state PFD).
    Without addressing the elephant in the budget which is the Tier 1 pension system and the oil producers giant tax incentives this lingering debate will just fall back to “cut the PFD or tax more”…

    • Steve, didn’t your parents teach you to be self-sufficient? You are a HUGE whiner. Kind of funny actually. Grown up man asking kids half his age to take care of him. Whatcha gonna do when you hit 65, dude?

    • Lol! Early social. Early retirement. Low income housing. Food stamps. Medicare. Medicaid. PFD’s. Hell, Steve be livin like a king. Ha ha.

    • Dude, you must be using common core math. The state has a budget in the 6 billion dollar range of you count the PFD. It would take a 25% cut across the board to get 1.4 billion dollar savings. You may be uninformed but there are some places hard to cut. The court system, the troopers, ADFG, Medicaid, retirement for state workers and it goes on. Idiots think a 10% cut equals 1.4 billion in savings.

    • The time to have an across the board cut was last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that.

      There is nothing fair about any of this, it wasn’t fair that previous legislators spent too much money, it’s not fair that current legislators want to continue to spend too much money.

      The elephant in the budget is that our legislature wants to continue to spend too much money.

      If we get to 10% cuts, actual cuts, across the board then I would take that. I wouldn’t be happy but I would take it. The main reason is that calling Dunleavy’s budget a 1.6 Billion cut is factually incorrect, it is either a slight increase or small, $100-$200 Million dollar reduction over last year. With an overall budget of around $11 Billion last year a 10% cut would be an actual cut of around $1.1 Billion.

      • Steve-O, the only reason behind the Dunleavy cuts is to be able to fund those statutory PFDs and backpay those PFD taken since Walker started that ball rolling.

        • If that’s what you really think Bill, you are wrong by a long ways. Just look at the constitutional amendments he has proposed. He is trying to cut government spending, the PFD is a completely different issue and the reason he does not treat it as an appropriation. That is why the $1.6 Billion in cuts number is floated around, he cuts the dividend out of government spending, since it is not government spending. If you remove the PFD from the Walker budget the Dunleavy cut is not $1.6 Billion.

  • These people are nuts. If they like taxes, write a check to the state. They can give their PFD to any group they want, they don’t have to accept it.
    Our government has had a spending problem for years. Think of these budget cuts as a fiscal diet. We will be much better after it is all done, but the process isn’t always pleasant.
    You and I are expected to live within our budget, why shouldn’t we expect our government to do the same.

    • Couldn’t have said it any better!!
      Lots of us feel the same way.

    • Precisely correct, Reta. Let all the Lefties turn their full PFD right back to the State general fund, to be used to pay for all of those state workers. Lefties would never do that. They have too great a love for money.

  • Juneau has what, 35,000 people? 5% of state population? Guess what, all you over-paid state bureaucrats in Juneau…..the majority of us want the full dividend and LESS TAXES. And we elected a governor to prove it!
    Move back to your real homes in the Lower 48. Dunleavy will use residuals to purchase your one-way fares on the southbound ferries. We’ll even celebrate your departure, then privatize the costs of all northbound ferries for your return to visit A NEW IMPROVED ALASKA.

    • Willing to bet you that the percentage of the population in Juneau that was born and raised in Alaska is higher than the percentage of the population in Anchorage and the Mat Valley that was born and raised in Alaska.

    • Point well taken, Art. But if true, is the whining, moaning and general bitching in Juneau proportionate to populations of Anchorage, Fairbanks, Mat-Su and Kenai? My instincts tell me: disproportionate.

      • Juneau is more than State employees. And I’d say there are more State employees up north than here. This was the first stop on the road show, let’s see how things go before passing judgement.

        To quote Just Me…”These testimonies DO NOT represent the community. They represent an organized group of people who are outspoken and active (activ-ists).”

        Maybe these “activ-ists” will show up at other locations as well. Time will tell.

  • “Invest in Alaska” – what a perverse use of “invest”.

  • Cut the budget and use the PFD earnings to run the state… makes no sense to have a state tax when we have the PFD available to run the state…. why would you want to tax yourselves when you don’t have to…

    • Problem is too many people forget the first part…cut the budget. Once we do that we can start talking about what to do next.

  • I want a sales tax, not an income tax. If you buy it, pay tax on it. Turning Alaska into a bigger socialist agenda isn’t what is good for Alaskans. Keeping the poor dependant on a big governments hand out doesn’t help. Just makes you more a slave to the man.

  • Dude, you must be using common core math. The state has a budget in the 6 billion dollar range of you count the PFD. It would take a 25% cut across the board to get 1.4 billion dollar savings. You may be uninformed but there are some places hard to cut. The court system, the troopers, ADFG, Medicaid, retirement for state workers and it goes on. Idiots think a 10% cut equals 1.4 billion in savings.

  • Pay everyone a final PFD of $25,000. At a 5% PMOV we’d start with $2.25-2.5 bn/yr. for the budget. Slug it out over the shortfall. If its taxes, cuts or a combo – so be it.

    Stop the worst public policy ever invented. Change the constitution to prohibit a dividend. Allocate a third to a half of PF for co-investment in AK projects because the returns are generally better than the PF’s. No inferior positions. Leverage permitting to give a preference to SOA participation.

  • Cut government spending.

  • I heard California is looking for more residents.

  • Let’s address the COLA: cost of living adjustment, based on tier level upon retirement. Claim Alaskan residency, be in the state once every 3 months, or live here 6 months supposedly, then receive additional monies dependent on tier. I know of a tier 1 who gets an additional $350/ month, tier 1 health insurance, Medicare along with $350k property tax deduction, as said person lives out of city proper of Soldotna… Another acquaintance, upon retiring will receive an additional $250/ month. I know of a retired teacher who said to me ” think of the hundreds and hundreds+ who receive this with many not living in the state… One could live in a tent and receive this COLA benefit.
    absurd
    Lets challenge these benefits, please

    • Absurd that you don’t know the facts before you post. The information is easily found on the AK DRB site. Start with this: Fact #1 to receive the COLA, you must reside in the state for 12 months of the year. Up to a 90 day absence is allowable. You can fact check the rest of your post.

    • That simply isn’t true about out-of-state tier 1 employees getting their cola while permanently living outside. The penalties are simply not worth it. They always catch up to you, sooner or later.

  • We want full taxes on the oil corporations and a full dividend. The PF dividend has to be “pump” into the Alaskan economy to prevent a depression and to help the low income citizens pay the bills.

  • The oil companies promised more production. They did not keep that promise so we the people of Alaska do not have to keep the promise to the oil companies. Repeal the Parnell tax credits NOW!!!

  • Kabuki Theater at its best.

  • Any chance they will take the dog and pony show out to the bush?

  • Give the people more taxes so you can give tax breaks to big business and the rich! Talk about government hand outs!!!!!

  • Disclosure: I am a Tier I retired state employee with medical insurance and a Cola of $220/monthly for remaining in the state. . At Age 65 I was FORCED to go on Medicare because in 1982 due to an unfortunate family crises I had to break service. When I was rehired I no longer was exempt from Medicare, however MOST all Tier I recipients do not receive Medicare benefits. When a retiree leaves the state for living elsewhere or vacation exceeding 30 days COLA stops upon notification to R&B. As for receiving SS, Tier I State employees dids not pay into the system so they do not receive SS unless they qualify under SS rules. I am a widow and 2/3 of my pension is subtracted from the amount I would receive from my deceased husband’s SS payment as his survivor. This is because I did not pay into the system. Never mind that he paid into the SS system for years as power lineman. I worked for 25 years as a civil servant at far below wages paid by the public sector for the same type of work I was doing for the State. This was by choice. The benefit package for Tier I employees was adopted to try and offset the descrepency in pay in order to attract good qualified workers. Lower level positions do not receive big retirement salaries as enjoyed by many of the senior level retirees. I would support a state sales tax and a reduction and cap on PFD if the state would seriously support an audit and accountability of how Department’s spend their budget approved funding. I can personally speak to flagrant waste in the Department I retired from. If just the one department I worked for is an indicator of all Departments…statewide…..there would probably be no need to cut funding to essential services just from the cost savings alone by getting a handle on these wasteful spending habits. FYI..in house budget reviews are a joke. Outside auditors need to come in and review all expenditures and also tighten up on inventory losses (?). In other words..Accountability..

    • Thank you Rena, Great post! I have also seen rampant waste and spending mantra that would bankrupt a private business.

      Yes, there were organized groups that testified. For the ones I am familiar with, they don’t have to be accountable for their working hours. Juneau does seem to have a higher population of liberal minded people who think their ideas are the only ones that matter, many of which have recently moved here. The rest of us have to work multiple and/or back breaking jobs and we’re not available to take off the day(s) to participate in person. Please don’t paint all or most of Juneau or Southeast with the same brush. I am a 3rd generation working Alaskan, not a state employee.

      I suggest everyone participates sharing your views via email, letters or calls so all voices are heard.

  • There seems to be a problem with big oil companies having billion dollar tax breaks, while the people should pay a new tax! I can’t afford to pay my bills now, must less a new tax! The poor can surely pay more…

  • “If the dividend was the most gratifying accomplishment of my second term, my inability to stop income tax repeal is my biggest disappointment, and may prove one of our most serious mistakes.”
    – Jay Hammond

    • The income tax repeal was sponsored by Rep. Dick Randolph and it passed. Randolph thought he would be the next governor and ran two or three times as a Libertarian, then Republican. Lost every time. In 1987, Gov. Cowper gave Alaskans a choice: give up the dividend or pay state income taxes. Randolph was behind the movement to oppose Cowper and Randolph succeeded in getting Cowper to back down. In 2018, Randolph campaigned to get Dunleavy elected. Now, Randolph is almost 90 and still working behind the scenes. One might say that the people didn’t care for Dick Randolph personally, but they liked his ideas.

      • Dick Randolph turns 83 in two weeks. That’s “almost 90”?

  • Most of Juneau is full of moaner and groaner, malcontent government workers. There are some good people that work hard in the private sector, who live in Juneau. With Dunleavy now fully in control of Alaska’s future…..its time to MOVE THE CAPITOL. 95% of the population lives elsewhere in the state. And we want OUR VOICES HEARD!!!!

    • Yawn….

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