Recently Alaska State Representative Wes Keller, R-Wasilla, authored a Voices of Alaska piece in the Peninsula Clarion. In the piece he repeatedly warns the people of Alaska to not be snookered into believing a number of things related to Alaska’s budget crunch. He states that, “We cannot allow ourselves to be duped into agreeing to a personal income tax or a raid of PFDs because of false guilt.” He also states that, “If we try to use a personal income tax to fill the gap, evidence shows we will actually ultimately further reduce revenue.”
After reading his letter I was feeling a bit snookered and felt compelled to e-mail him. In addition I carbon copied legislators from the Kenai Peninsula in order to inform them of my concerns.
His statement regarding income taxes reducing state revenue did not pass the common sense test so I did some research. It did not take too much digging to find a site to debunk Mr. Keller’s premise that income taxes would reduce state revenue. I attached the link to the email I sent him. Here is the link, please check it out, it is very informative: http://dollarsandsense.org/archives/2011/0611reuss.html
I have not heard back from Mr. Keller, but I do hope he reads the information at the link I shared so he can make more informed decisions. Ones based on accurate information. Here is a quote I found particularly interesting from the above link:
“If you follow budget debates carefully, you will sometimes hear the same politician, in effect, making opposing arguments. When arguing in favor of tax (rate) cuts, a politician may make the supply-side claim that government revenues will increase as a result. When arguing against new or expanded government programs, however, they may argue that the new spending will require tax (rate) increases.
“If they really believe the supply-side story, they should be arguing that increased government programs will require tax cuts, in order to increase tax revenues.”
Mr. Keller closes his piece with, “Our challenge will ultimately be met by reducing State spending to match projected revenue.” It appears that Mr. Keller wants to meet this challenge by simply hacking away at the State budget. What will our highways look like if we follow Mr. Keller’s vision? Our schools? Our ferry system? Our systems of public safety?
I did hear back from Senator Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna. He called me a few hours after I sent the e-mail and offered some encouraging words. He agreed that it would not be possible to cut our way out of this situation and still have a state that will attract businesses and families. I also heard back from Representative Paul Seaton, R-Homer. He shared a link to an excellent survey regarding Alaska’s fiscal crisis. The survey gives an opportunity to provide feedback about possible revenue enhancers for the state. It also allows for feedback on areas of the state budget you feel still need to be trimmed (or even eliminated). It is very detailed and lengthy, but it is a great learning experience. Here is the link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SOArevenue. I truly appreciate politicians like Mr. Micciche and Mr. Seaton who take communications from the public seriously.
In the words of longtime conservative Alaskan Clem Tillion, “Our state gravy train has run out of track.” Here is a common sense letter penned by Mr. Tillion regarding Alaska’s budget: http://peninsulaclarion.com/opinion/letters/2015-03-26/free-ride-for-alaskans-coming-to-an-end.
It is certainly true that we have a budget crisis and cuts need to be made, but I contend that we must also look to increase revenue. It is the only path to sustainability. Taking anything off the table at this point is a bad idea.