Perma-Fund hearings in Valley; Governor threatens property tax hikes - Must Read Alaska
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Perma-Fund hearings in Valley; Governor threatens property tax hikes

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Senator Bill Stoltze

Senator Bill Stoltze

THRILLA IN WASILLA

If it’s Wednesday of this week, and you’re in the Mat-Su Valley, you’ll want to pop into Wasilla.

The action happens at the Legislative Information Offices at 1 pm and 5:30 pm (public testimony) with the Senate State Affairs Committee.

The committee, chaired by Sen. Bill Stoltze, will be hearing SB 5001, the restructuring of the Alaska Permanent Fund.

SB 5001 is a zombie apocalypse bill. It’s a new version of SB 128 which was the governor’s bill during regular session. Before the governor’s bill, there was SB 114, offered by Sen. Lesil McGuire.

It’s a bill that won’t stay dead.

In all the years since statehood, has there ever been an official committee hearing in Wasilla? Since the Valley is the second-most populated area in the state, it probably seems only fair to Sen. Stoltze.

But the Administration is going to sit this one out. Commissioner Randy Hoffbeck sent a “thanks no thanks” letter to Committee Chairman Stoltze, and won’t even show up by telephone.

The Department of Law is without its top gun, former Attorney General Craig Richards, but Assistant AG Emma Pokon will lay out the particulars for the committee. She’s been the workhorse on this bill anyway, even under Richards. Also from Law will be Bill Milks, and Angela Rodell, Permanent Fund Executive Director, will phone in as well.

The Permanent Fund restructuring plan has proponents and opponents on all parts of the political spectrum, but the Mat-Su Valley would not be Woodstock for this legislation.

Stoltze, who has been an advocate for a capital move, might be having a bit of “last laugh” during the waning weeks of his tenure as an Alaska legislator, by bringing hearings on “messing with the Permanent Fund” to his own opinionated home turf. He’s never been a fan of Juneau.

And it did not help that just this week Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, was caught in one of his classic moments of candor calling voters outside of Juneau idiots who don’t care, or that’s how it came across.

BILL WALKER THREATENS MUNI-TAX HIKES

Governor's tweet of July 12, threatening property tax increases.

Governor’s tweet of July 12, threatening property tax increases.

Governor Bill Walker called into the Anchorage Assembly meeting this evening (July 12). Then he did a live shoot with a KTVA reporter.

After that, he summarized what he said to the Twitter Universe: “Due to legislative inaction, property taxes will go up and Alaskans will have to pay more for services,” he threatened.

“In the social service world, we call this the perpetrator blaming the victim,” said one legislative aide.

ALREADY TAXED TO THE MAX

“Someone needs to tell the governor that the Anchorage mayor is taxing people at the cap already,” according to an Anchorage resident who attended. “The only thing left to use is the $5 million that Berkowitz and the Assembly promised to rebate to property taxpayers, since we’re already at the cap.”

The voters, with “Yes on 8”, reaffirmed the formula for property taxes in April, which prevents exactly the kind of scenario the governor is threatening.

The mill rate was also set in April, which takes care of this year. In the future, the State could take away municipal assistance and revenue sharing, and the muni have to make up that difference with property taxes, at least in Anchorage.

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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.

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