January 20, 2016
Start of Session Report
Also: A Final Chance to Answer my Fiscal Policy Survey
Yesterday we began the second session of the 29th Alaska Legislature here at our State Capitol in Juneau. As I am sure you are aware, Alaska’s troublesome fiscal situation has overshadowed many other serious concerns, and my colleagues and I in the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition are hard at work to find solutions to the crisis that are fair to regular Alaskans and protect our most vulnerable citizens.
Rep. Chris Tuck standing outside his office at the State Capitol in Juneau.
According to the Legislative Fiscal Analyst’s Overview of the Governor’s FY2017 Request, this fiscal year’s revenue is expected to cover less than 30 percent of expenses, leaving a deficit of $3.5 billion. Our savings reserves, including the permanent fund earnings, will be depleted by 2020 and result in Alaska fiscally “falling off a cliff” at that time.
The Governor’s plan includes:
- Reductions in operating budget expenditures
- New revenues from several taxes, including an income tax
- Redirection of some petroleum revenue from the general fund to a “sustainable” reserve account
- Revised cash flows of permanent fund earnings, including a reduction of dividends and of inflation proofing deposits to the permanent fund
- Annual transfers from the “sustainable” reserve account to the general fund.
I appreciate that the Governor has put forward a bold fiscal plan to keep the state running. However, this plan will need serious scrutiny to make sure the Alaskan people don’t get stuck paying most of the bills while the special interests who line the hallways of the capitol get away with paying less than their fair share.
You can stay informed about the legislature’s activities by watching Gavel to Gavel on television at the 360 North Network or online at http://w3.legis.state.ak.us/.
For example, under a sales tax or a reduction in the dividend, working class Alaskans could lose a large portion of their annual income while out of state workers and wealthy corporations end up paying little or nothing. How is this fair?
Also, we have yet to see what plan will be put forward by the House and Senate Majorities who control the Legislative agenda. My coalition has proposed we put politics aside and form a special nonpartisan “Ways and Means” committee which will take a realistic look at the situation so that we can make hard choices using the best available information.
Rep. Chris Tuck chairing a public meeting of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition to review the agenda before the first legislative session of the year.
It has been said that a politician thinks of the next election, whereas a statesman thinks of the next generation. I am hopeful that the gravity of our situation will bring out the best in everyone and we can all pull together to do right by Alaska.
THERE IS STILL TIME TO ANSWER MY SURVEY ONLINE:
It is important that I hear from you so I can stand up for your interests in the Alaska Legislature. If you haven’t done so already, please add your voice to the hundreds of friends and neighbors who have responded to my survey on Alaska’s fiscal policy. I will be closing the survey soon so I can do a final tally on the results and share them with everyone back home, but there is still time to fill out your answers online at the following link:
As always, I’m here for you, so please keep in touch on matters important to you and your family!
Alaska State Representative
District 23 - Anchorage