Alaska House Finance Committee Will Spend the Week Examining Alaska’s Fiscal Dilemma
May 01, 2017
“Our Coalition has developed and passed a sustainable fiscal plan that responds to the ongoing recession and the structural issues with our revenue stream that have resulted in massive yearly deficits,” said House Finance Committee Co-chair Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer).
Seaton said, “This weeklong series of meetings will allow us to compare and contrast the competing fiscal plans that have passed the House and Senate. I am excited to hear from stakeholders from across the state this week to see if indeed our plan is the best choice. I believe it is because it’s complete, comprehensive, and fair.”
“We cannot afford to have a partial solution that will continue the unhealthy economic uncertainty that has deepened the recession,” said House Finance Committee Co-chair Rep. Neal Foster (D-Nome).
Foster said, “As we approach the deadline to make some monumental financial decisions, we need Alaskans to be informed and involved. Once the members of the House and Senate, the Governor, and all Alaskans can get on the same page and focus on solutions, we can ensure a stable financial future for the state we all call home.”
According to House Republicans, the several tax models they listened to today would cripple the state's economy by unfairly pinching the pockets of hardworking Alaskans. It's become apparent if House Democrats can't get all the money they want through an income tax they'll just add on other taxes, stated the House Republicans in a news release.
"It's disappointing on the 105th day of the session, we're still hearing about new ways to take from Alaskans to grow government," said Representative Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage). "The numbers modeled today paint half a picture in order to justify an income tax. What about my neighbor who just lost his job or the Alaskan whose income just got cut in half?"
"The House Majority's dogmatic insistence on an array of new taxes, up to and including a progressive income tax is an experiment in social engineering through wealth redistribution. It isn't simply about new revenue," said Representative Tammie Wilson (R-North Pole).
During Monday's House Finance hearing, multiple tax models were reviewed, including income, sales, investment, and payroll taxes. Democrats and the Governor Bill Walker have also put forward bills to increase taxes on motor fuels and the oil and gas industry.
"Alaskans have told me they expect further spending reductions before even discussing any new revenue measures. I've focused my efforts on cutting spending, while House Democrats have focused their efforts on proposing a suite of new taxes to finance their spending increases," said Rep. Cathy Tilton (R-Chugiak/Mat-Su).
"House Democrats believe taxes will solve the state's budget deficit, yet they seem to forget Alaska's recession. During times of economic hardship, new taxes should be a last resort. Instead, our efforts should focus on increasing resource development that puts Alaskans back to work, and creating investment strategies that protect and grow our Permanent Fund principal so it can provide increased earnings and PFDs into the future," Rep. Steve Thompson (R-Fairbanks) commented.
The presentation from what the House Republicans call a left-leaning D.C. think tank, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, clearly illustrated the House Majority's commitment to a "tax and spend" philosophy. Throughout the session, House Democrats have shown no appetite to the "reasonable reductions" for which they say they're committed.
The weeklong series of meetings in the Alaska House Finance Committee began today at 1:30 with presentations from David Teal, the Director of the Legislative Finance Division, and Carl Davis with the Institute of Taxation and Economic Development, which recently released a new study comparing the distributional impacts of the revenue options being considered as part of the competing fiscal plans in the Alaska Legislature. On Tuesday, the House Finance Committee will hear from several non-profit and tribal leaders, followed by a meeting on Wednesday that will feature business, municipal, and labor leaders. On Thursday, the members of the House Finance Committee will receive a presentation from Randy Hoffbeck, the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Revenue. Friday’s meeting will feature presentations from Northern Economics and Carolyn Schultz with the Office of the Governor.
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Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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