Drawing upon centuries of collective wisdom and Alaska experience, the Pioneers of Alaska share their opinion of the state's budget crisis - in today's post.
A group of long-term Alaskans are deeply troubled by the budget crisis and what it may portend for the future of the state. The Pioneers of Alaska, a fraternal organization founded a century ago in Nome “to promote the best interests of Alaska,” recently surveyed its members about the revenue shortfall . Their responses draw upon centuries of collective history and experience (to be a member, you must have been a resident for at least twenty years.)
All respondents to the survey of the Pioneers 4,500 members expressed concern about the deficit, and a majority believes that the solution should involve both spending cuts and new revenue. Nearly three quarters of respondents are opposed to making deep cuts to essential public services, including education, public safety, healthcare, and road maintenance.
The Pioneers who responded to the survey are like other Alaskans in that they have a variety of opinions about the best plan to close the budget gap. Eighty percent said that they support using a portion of the excess earnings from the Permanent Fund to support public services and programs during the crisis while protecting dividends. Most of these respondents support capping the dividend to avoid deep cuts to services, and 65 percent support limiting the PFD to $1,000 or less.
The survey also found that 80 percent of respondents are in favor of limiting oil development tax credits.
The idea of new statewide taxes is a tough sell for Alaskans, but more than half of the Pioneers who responded to the survey indicated that they would support either a new state personal income tax or a state sales tax to close the budget gap. Respondents who support new taxes see this as an emergency solution, and would want taxes to be structured to expire when the state economy recovers.
In a recent letter to legislators summarizing the survey results, Pioneers of Alaska Grand President Fred Thorsteinson wrote that his membership understands that “difficult decisions must be made.” He urged the Legislature to “take positive actions to reduce the budget deficit rather than rely on the Constitutional Budget Reserve to provide a short term solution.”
Posted by jen simpson
The state needs to look at a broader spectrum of viable sources of income than imposing taxes on top of existing taxes.
setting up industrial greenhouses across the state, along with processing and packaging plants would strike a double in driving down food costs as well as lifting some of our awful dependency on federal monies and crippling our 15-18 dollar an hour majority of workers with the resulting import fees. It would open a new host of state jobs and give the little guy a break
Posted by Sue Steinacher
The only equitable way to increase state revenue is with an income tax. Capping the PFD and instituting any level of state sales tax creates a disproportionate hardship on the poor and on rural Alaska. And we can NOT cut our way to prosperity. It’s time for our state government to grow up and institute an income tax. After that we can discuss possible ways of re-figuring the PFD, especially if it is used to level the economic playing field between urban and rural Alaska. I never joined the Pioneers of Alaska, but as a 36+ year resident I’m certainly eligible.
Posted by E.C.Wheeler
Do not the PFD reduction. All other are reasonable, however, new revenues should included state income tax , 15-20% of fed tax, flat sale tax 3-5%,