On Tuesday, March 17 at 6:00 p.m. the Borough Assembly is meeting and one of the issues they will vote on is to do away with the winter exemption on a tax on unprepared foods. This tax is dedicated to fund education, meaning that it goes directly to our local schools. I would encourage everyone to consider the fiscal climate the state is in and stand up to say our kids are important enough for us to pay a few dollars more each time we go shopping. For a little perspective, the tax is 3 percent which means we’re paying more for the coffee at Starbucks than we would be on an average shopping trip.
The governor’s budget proposed a $32 million cut to education funding which works out to be between $2-3 million for the peninsula. The proposed tax change would generate about the same amount of money. Right now the school district is working on next year’s budget and one thing they are considering is increasing the Teacher/Student Ratio which would result in larger class sizes. Do we really want to take a step backwards like that in order to save a little bit of money? I love living in Alaska and enjoying great schools and other services which are funded by oil revenue. At this time of low oil prices I think we need to stand up and be willing to pay more to maintain those great schools. The truth is we pay very little in taxes and we enjoy a permanent fund dividend. So it seems reasonable to me to for us to pay a little bit more when the state is not able to.