by Arlene Buxton
February 25, 2005
To Whom It May Concern:
I just happened across this recent press release and I am appalled at what I read. How can you take from those who don't have in the first place?
I find the thinking of those Alaskan Legislatures who have more than likely a lot more than others, totally irrational and unrealistic! First of all, rural areas are generally poor and the cash flow is either nonexistent or barely there. If there were money to spare, there would be tax structures in place already to assist in financing pertinent services, most importantly, a service such as education of the future of Alaska, our Alaskan children. But get real! There isn't any extra money so there aren't tax-based revenues generated within rural areas! Wouldn't one think that is why they have no local tax base to help pay the capital and operating expenses for local schools now? That it is because the residents of rural communities have no money to support taxes?
I can not believe that they think they can just take from someone's paycheck automatically to pay this tax and there won't be any ramifications or consequences. Many rural people are struggling to survive and most often there are several families living together just to make ends meet. For instance, there are many multi-family households who have one or two breadwinners who support the entire household. These same breadwinners more than likely do not earn big dollars nor is their employment permanent or year-around, most is seasonal and minimum wage and more than likely supplemented by subsistence lifestyles. Have any of these Alaskan Legislature lawmakers ever lived on unemployment these days? The amount one receives on unemployment is barely enough to cover basic needs and also has a time-frame and often benefits are exhausted and further struggle to survive begins. And Mr. Bunde thinks those who are on unemployment and who already don't have enough to make ends meet will take some of that unemployment benefit money to pay the tax bill directly to the state rather than feed or provide for their families? I think not!
He says the Alaska Department of Revenue estimates earned income of $505 million last year in the unorganized boroughs. How much of that money was earned by those who are not permanent residents of those rural communities? How many are people who are contracted to work or brought in by a company from outside those same communities for a project and then are gone when the work or project is completed? These are temporary residents. I am sure their earnings are calculated into that total the Department of Revenue has "estimated".
Quite frankly, I am sick and tired of this "we-they" mentality. The "we" are those who have never been without and the "they" are those who are without. The arrogance of the "we" is quite evident, they just don't get it! Life in rural Alaska is harsh. They don't have an economy. The "we" live a cushioned life and are ignorant of the lives of the "they" that are constantly struggling. Most of the "we" live in either the largest city in Alaska (Anchorage), or the other larger more populated cities. I think the "outside" mentality is creeping into our legislature. They say they moved to Alaska to get away from the "city" life, but unfortunately, they bring along with them that same mentality that they supposedly moved away from. Too bad they don't live in one of our rural communities, maybe then they could comprehend the added hardship an imposed tax would create for the poor.
On the other hand, don't they
realize how important rural people value education of their children?
Most rural areas hold their schools, education in general for
that matter, with the highest esteem and take much pride in them.
To these rural people, education of their children is the future
and it is their hope the future will bring prosperity to the
rural communities through the education of their youth who will
someday become their leaders. They want their children to have
more in their adulthood than what they have now. Their schools
are the main focal point of their communities. They do not have
movie theaters, or bowling alleys, or concert halls or art centers,
they have only their schools. School activities are a community-wide
concern. Any time there is an after-school activity or school
program presentation, you will find nearly the entire rural community
in attendance. Schools, education and facilities, are the heart
of villages. They appreciate the fact th!
Please, please, convince the legislature to rethink this legislation that Con Bunde has introduced. It is not in the best interest of rural Alaska. We want our children to receive a good education in good schools, but we need the state to continue their funding as it has with the formerly (known as) State-Operated Schools, formerly Unorganized Borough School Districts, and now REAAs.
Related Press Release:
Complete Bill Text:
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