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Note from Rep. Les Gara
Note from Rep. Les Gara  
Juneau Update: What I’m Fighting For
Note from Rep. Les Gara

May 24, 2017

Voice Your Opinions!

Letters to the editor make a difference. You can send a letter of up to 200 words (shorter letters are more likely to be accepted) to the Alaska Dispatch News by email (; or by fax or mail (call them at 257-4308). Send letters to the Anchorage Press via e-mail or by mail to 540 E. Fifth Ave, Anchorage, 99501. Feel free to call us if you need factual information to help you write a letter.

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Want to Volunteer To Help A Child?

You can be a Volunteer Mentor to help a child, through a program we worked with foster care advocates to start, at Big Brothers, Big Sisters.  Just call433-4691. Have the time to do more?  Alaska has a major shortage of foster and adoptive parents, and you can help change a life by doing that.  To ask about foster parenting or adopting a child out of foster care call 1-800-478-7307.  And, of course, we are always asking people to donate tax deductible new or used (good condition only) laptops for current and recent foster youth.  You can contact us if you'd like to do that.

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Dear Neighbors:

As one of 60 legislators, I think we could have finished our work within the 90-day limit. But like negotiating for a car, you can’t just make your offer. You have to get the car salesperson to make a reasonable offer back. That hasn’t happened. The offer so far from our Senate colleagues is:

•   No budget plan to erase the deficit or save our dwindling savings;

•   Spending $360 million on oil company subsidies when they want to cut $70 million from public education and another $21 million from an already budget-devastated university;

•   Eliminating all state pre-K;

•   Cutting help for the most vulnerable Alaskans – those with disabilities, seniors with great needs, and abused and neglected children – none of whom we should turn our backs on.

Drain and Pray: We Should Solve the Recession, Not Drain Savings and Pray to be Rescued by High Oil Prices (which will likely not happen)

Every economist has told us the same thing: that continuing to slash the budget will extend our recession. The House and Governor found roughly $80 million in cuts in the budget, on top of $3.4 billion since 2013. At this point, every economist says cutting more than that leads to the loss of 1,000 – 1,500 private and public sector jobs for every $100 million in additional cuts. The Senate proposes $750 million in more cuts over the next three years. With less money in the economy, that’s a loss of roughly 10,000 more jobs. That’s on top of the 7,500 Alaska lost last year. Less money spent at stores, on homes, and in the economy causes already hurting businesses to close or contract. That’s irresponsibility, not a plan.

And the Senate’s only revenue proposal – cutting the dividend to $1,000 – hits the poorest Alaskans the hardest, doesn’t have wealthy Alaskans or large profitable businesses or oil companies chip in, and is, whether intentional or not, a plan that favors rich Alaskans and those people and companies with privilege over working class and poorer Alaskans.

With a roughly $3 billion budget deficit, and dwindling savings, my bi-partisan Alaska House Majority Coalition has asked for a fair share for our oil as part of a revenue plan. The Senate, instead, wants to further cut our almost non-existent oil production tax, and pay $1.4 billion in oil company subsidies over the next 10 years – plus $360 million in oil subsidies in the budget this year.

We think exempting over 6,000 corporations and businesses from Alaska’s corporate tax makes no sense. Higher profit corporations and businesses, and wealthier Alaskans, would have chipped in through a school tax on income that focused on having people (including business and corporation owners) with higher incomes, and high business and high corporate income, chip in.

We also think a $1,000 dividend hits poorer Alaskans and seniors too hard, and propose increasing it from last year’s $1,022 to $1,250, and growing it after that.

With a fair share for our oil, and a request that the most privileged chip in, this would solve our budget deficit, and erase the need for further cuts to schools, seniors, kids, and those living on the edge.

I don’t believe in class warfare. But a plan that cuts the public education most Alaskans can’t replace with private schooling, and that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Alaskans or largest corporations to chip in, favors the most privileged over the rest of you.

We look forward to serious discussions with the GOP-led Senate. So far those have not happened.   

We are all in this together. We shouldn’t choose a plan that favors the wealthiest over children, seniors, and those with the greatest needs.

I look forward to hearing from you.

My Best,

[signed] Les Gara

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