This week, in the absence of a true and complete fix to the state’s fiscal crisis from the Alaska Senate, the House passed, with bipartisan support, an amendment funding a full Permanent Fund dividend as provided by law. This was not some bargaining tactic or political maneuver; instead, it was us saying that we are fighting for you, hardworking Alaskans, and your money.
We have said from the beginning that we cannot support a plan that fills the deficit on the backs of Alaska workers, seniors and children. The current PFD-only plan supported by the Senate does just that, as a cut to the PFD reduces the income of every Alaskan. The Senate says they are the “only thing standing between Alaskans and an income tax” yet they are pushers of a plan that levies the most inequitable, unfair and economically damaging tax of them all: a $1,250 reduction in income for every Alaska man, woman and child. It seems that the only people the Senate wants to protect are out-of-state workers, the wealthy, and shareholders of multinational oil companies.
It is unfortunate that Gov. Bill Walker sided with the Senate in their effort to cut the PFD once again. By not including SB 23 (the capital budget) in the second special session call, the possibility of a full PFD was virtually eliminated. Additionally, with no other revenue options in the call, we may be forced to take the Senate’s word that they’ll discuss actual fixes to our fiscal mess (i.e. new revenues, including higher taxes on the oil companies) at a later date. This is not a good way to negotiate a compromise that will prevent the threat of a government shutdown from coming up year after year after year.
We all know the current state of Alaska’s finances, and they are not good. But there is a way out of this mess, where all Alaskans contribute fairly to the vibrant and bright future of our state, where our communities are safe and our kids get a great education, where all Alaskans have an opportunity to achieve great things, be self-sufficient, and provide for themselves and their families. But until we put a comprehensive fiscal plan into place, we will oppose fiscal Band-Aids that put the burden on working Alaskans.
The Alaska House Majority Coalition continues to strive for a fair, balanced and comprehensive fiscal plan that will bring certainty to Alaska families and businesses. We will continue to negotiate with the Senate and the House Republican Minority to achieve one. And we are firmly committed to averting a government shutdown. But until everyone comes to the table ready to find reasonable compromise and address our fiscal realities, we will not simply give away your money as an easy fix.
Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, a Republican, is the chair of the House Rules Committee, and represents House District 15, which covers East Anchorage. Rep. Chris Tuck, a Democrat, is the House Majority Leader, and represents House District 23, which stretches from Midtown to South Anchorage. Both are members of the Alaska House Majority Coalition leadership.