Senator Berta Gardner

December 10, 2015

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Serving Midtown, Spenard, and UMed

716 W. 4th Ave Suite 411.
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: 907-269-0174
Call Me: 1-800-331-4930

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Governor Bill Walker
Anchorage Office
550 W. 7th Ave, Ste 1700
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 269-7450

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

The Governor’s Fiscal Plan

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Speaking about Alaska’s budget issues at the Anchorage International Rotary Club.
Speaking about Alaska’s budget issues at the Anchorage International Rotary Club.

First of all, I applaud Governor Walker for taking this first, huge step in offering the state a timely and desperately needed fiscal plan.  I believe it is essential that we act now to put in place a sustainable plan on which we can rely over the long term. We can no longer count on oil to save us.  Prices are not going up and the volume will inevitably continue to fall.  A plan is necessary today.

My goal in this effort is to protect the interests of our children, of working people and of Alaskan communities.  While I am grateful for this initial proposal, especially for starting the discussion, I believe the Governor fails to meet the mark, especially as it asks for disproportionate sacrifices and contributions from lower income working families, and harms efforts to improve opportunities for children.

What I Like

  • No state sales tax and a continued commitment to municipal revenue sharing.  These measures will help communities remain viable and healthy.

What Disappoints Me

  • Cuts to schools:  Specifically the cuts to early education further harming our efforts to improve outcomes for all children.  One program in particular that has been tremendously successful and that is being impacted is the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP).
  • The new revenue:  The proposed income taxes and cuts to Permanent Fund Dividends fall disproportionately on working people. A four person household, for instance, with $50,000 annual income, will contribute about 10% of their income to the state. ($5,000 being $4000 in lost dividends and approximately $1000 in income tax).  A single person with an income of $1 million on the other hand will pay a far lower percentage.
  • Trivial adjustment to oil taxes:  Our oil tax floor is only 4% which the Governor proposes to raise to 5%.  People often compare Alaska to North Dakota which has a tax floor of 11-12%.  The state is the largest investor on the North Slope, picking up 50-80% of exploration or development costs, and I believe our heavy participation in costs should merit a healthy tax floor and higher returns when oil prices go up.  We understand stability matters to the oil industry.  We understand also, as surely they do, that unfairness causes instability.

The Governor’s proposal is an important first step, and I am looking forward to working with all legislators on this critical matter.  I hope everyone agrees that the time to do this, and the time to do it right, is now!

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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