Spending cap petition runs into tax-and-spend litigants


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“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yeild [sic], and government to gain ground.”

We might quibble with Thomas Jefferson on the spelling of “yield, “but his statement is spot on.

Or, you can go with this more contemporary thought:

“A good community isn’t free.”

Those are the words of Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, who was trying to convince voters not to pass a property tax limit in 2016.

Voters didn’t buy what Berkowitz was selling.

That battle between liberty and government is heating up again in the municipality of Anchorage as voters turn their attention to the April 4 municipal election.

The Anchorage spending cap that is now in the petition stage seems destined for a win, after 60 percent of voters favored Proposition 8, the 2016 ballot measure that enforced a tax cap on the Assembly after the liberal majority decided to raise taxes.

But now a lawsuit by tax-and-spend liberals has been filed to prevent voters from actually setting a spending limit on their own municipal government.

The three litigants who are the plaintiffs are trying to deep-six a spending cap petition being circulated by activists with the organizational guidance of Americans for Prosperity-Alaska.

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Bob Griffin, who serves on the Anchorage Budget Advisory Commission, and Terre Gales, who ran last year for Anchorage Assembly, are among those (including former Mayor Dan Sullivan) trying to get the spending limit on the municipal ballot.

The lawsuit alleges the city municipal clerk and deputy clerk did not follow correct procedures in approving the proposed ballot initiative to continue to the signature-gathering stage. The lawsuit further states that citizens cannot limit appropriating powers of the Assembly through ballot initiatives.

Voters might think it’s not necessary to have a spending cap since they passed a tax cap last year. They’d be mistaken.

Anchorage law limits what the Assembly can appropriate with a formula that factors in things like population and inflation. But a loophole also allows for increases to provide services deemed necessary. It’s a big loophole.

In October, the liberal-dominated Assembly suspended the existing spending cap law, which led to the current petition.

Jeremy Price, state director for Americans for Prosperity – Alaska, said the attempt to silence the will of the people won’t succeed. “We won’t be silenced. I’d encourage everyone to go sign the petition if you want  government to stay accountable and stop out-of-control spending,” he said.

Price and his group were successful in getting voters to agree to the tax cap last year, in spite of heavy opposition by public employee unions and Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.

The tax cap requires that the municipality uses the actual amount of tax collected in a one year as the starting point for the next year’s tax cap calculation, instead of the maximum amount of tax the city could collect.

Under the current scenario, with dropping home valuations and lagging assessments, this is a very big matter of concern to homeowners.

The current petition would place the Anchorage spending cap in the city charter so elected officials would no longer be able to ignore it or interpret it so loosely they could spend all the public funds they like for all they deem “necessary.”

You can sign the petition at these locations:

  • Midtown: Gunrunners – 601 E Northern Lights Blvd # D
  • East Anchorage: 907 Surplus – 328 Boniface Pkwy
  • Eagle River: Mike’s Quality Meats – 12110 Business Blvd; Boondock Sporting Goods – 17007 N Eagle River Loop Road