Senator Berta Gardner

June 7, 2016

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Serving Midtown, Spenard, and UMed

State Capitol Bldg. Rm 9
Juneau, AK 99801
 
Phone: 907-465-4930
Call Me: 1-800-331-4930

Sen.Berta.Gardner@akleg.gov
alaskasenatedems.com/gardner
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Governor Bill Walker
Anchorage Office
550 W. 7th Ave, Ste 1700
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 269-7450
Gov.alaska.gov
 

Lt. Governor Byron Mallot
Anchorage Office
550 W. 7th Ave, Ste 1700
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 269-7460
LtGov.alaska.gov

Nearing the End

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Today I had the Honor of presenting Senate Ellis with a Legislative Citation commending him for his 30 years in the legislature. He has been a great mentor, friend and colleague and he will be missed.
Today I had the Honor of presenting Senate Ellis with a Legislative Citation commending him for his 30 years in the legislature. He has been a great mentor, friend and colleague and he will be missed.

Forty-four days after the end of the statutory legislative session, we again had oil tax subsidy legislation on the Senate Floor, followed by debate and vote on a proposal to use the earnings reserve of the Permanent Fund for state government, reducing the dividend by about 50% ...and sliding.

I was a no vote on both bills.  Here is why:

OIL TAXES, HB247

In light of a shortfall of about $4.1 billion this year alone, I am committed to reducing the unsustainable and unjustifiable subsidy we pay to oil companies to develop our resources.  If we do not do this, any new revenue raised from working Alaskans and nonresident workers by an income tax, from Alaskans and tourists by a sales tax or from every Alaskan who qualifies for a Permanent Fund Dividend will be used to write checks to oil companies.  The bill that passed the Senate made some steps in the right direction but overall was a missed opportunity.  It was far from good enough.

PERCENT OF MARKET VALUE aka POMV, SB128

This is a revenue bill which changes the way we use the earnings of the Permanent Fund.  Currently we use that money  to inflation proof the fund and to pay dividends.  Under this bill, the money would be used for state government and would reduce the dividend to a guaranteed $1,000 for 3 years, and then with a different calculation pay a dividend which will likely be reduced.  Although I recognize that the earnings are an asset necessary to filling our massive hole, I cannot support it while we are writing checks in the hundreds of millions of dollars to oil companies to induce them to produce oil. 

  • For close to a year now I've been describing the looming fiscal crisis, trying to prepare people for big changes to life in Alaska, and advocating for addressing the problem by:
  • Reducing state spending for focusing on essential state services, and by seeking and supporting efficiencies at every level.  This process should be a given every year, regardless of revenue levels.
  • Fixing the massive, unsustainable, undisclosed oil company subsidies - the 3rd largest spending item in our state budget.

Only when the first two items have been addressed should we explore the ways in which Alaskans should contribute to state services.  The options, as we all know, include use of the Permanent Fund earnings, income tax, sales tax, increased tax on our commonly owned resources such as mining, fisheries, and the so called sin taxes like alcohol, tobacco, smokeless tobacco, marijuana, plus motor fuel.

I do not see a reason to change the proper order of actions.  I cannot support taking money from the pockets of Alaskans to fill the pockets of oil industry share-holders.

SB128 is now in the possession of the House of Representatives and the House Finance committee has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday, June 14 at 8:30am.

I’m Berta and I’m still listening,

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office.

signed: Berta


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