Letters to the Editor

Survey respondents favor higher

oil taxes, not income or sales tax

Thank you to everyone who has taken the Commonwealth North budget survey. I decided to use their comprehensive budget survey in lieu of a survey directly from my office this year. I received the results for District 36, updated last week, and most people prefer a limited approach to the Permanent Fund dividend: 42% prefer to "pay out the same amount" as last year, which was $992, and 25% said "suspend dividends until the state can afford them."

On the other end of the dividend spectrum, 17% said they would like to the state "pay Alaskans the full dividend from the past three years," which would total several thousand dollars per person, and 16%, the least common answer, said they prefer to "use the statutory formula to pay this year's dividend," which would result in a dividend of more than $3,000.

In regard to revenue from our largest asset - earnings from the Permanent Fund - the majority at 55% want to protect Permanent Fund earnings by "following the existing payout formula," of an annual 5% draw on the fund, instead of taking an additional 0.5%, 1% or 1.5% more out of the account.

Most people prefer increasing resource taxes over personal taxes: 54% prefer no income tax instead of the options of a flat or progressive tax, and 47% prefer no sales tax. Of the survey participants, 70% want to increase oil production taxes, 62% want to increase mining taxes, and 58% want to increase motor fuel taxes. However, people in District 36 do not want to see commercial fisheries taxes increase.

In terms of spending, across the board, people answered that state departments should "maintain spending," except for preferred cuts to the Legislature and governor's office. Of note, 47% also requested that the ferry system transition to a more self-sustaining structure.

Based on the 276 district residents who responded to the survey, I am hearing these messages: No additional cuts to the budget, increase taxes on our resources but don't institute any new taxes on "me," and make up the deficit with a lean dividend.

If you have not yet completed the survey, you may do so by visiting http://www.akbudget.com. If you have any additional input, contact my office any time at 907-465-3824 or email at Rep.Dan.Ortiz@AKLeg.gov.

Rep. Dan Ortiz


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