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Last updated
Sept 15, 1999
Election Results
Save Your PFD
Sept 14, 1999
Who is paying
for YES vote
Table Of Contents

A 'logical' budget solution
I have been hearing quite a lot of heated opinions regarding the state
deficit lately. The obvious answer is the two-year operational cycle,
which mandates that next year's budget would be based on this year's
income. With the state's primary income source being dependent on a
fluctuating and declining commodity, this is the only logical approach.
This would solve the budget crisis by shifting expenditure discipline
back on the state departmental managers where it belongs.
We folks in the private sector have had to shift our paradigms to
survive the latest industry downturns. You can pay for expensive
advice from consultants, but the bottom line is we all have to do more
for less. Our cash cow is running dry, and an anti-oil stance by the
vocal minority isn't helping matters. It seems to me that we have to
reduce government spending, increase oil production and legally
mandate some discipline in the budgeting process. There aren't enough
working folks up here to carry the burden via taxation; most of us are
barely hanging on as it is.
- Lloyd Andrews

Throw the rascals out
The upcoming vote on whether or not to use the Permanent Fund
earnings for budgetary expenditures is the end product of a cowardly
act by the current legislators who want you, the public, to make
decisions too hard for them to make; too hard meaning they don't want
to risk their chances of re-election by making the tough decisions
themselves. Well, isn't that what they were elected to do? Are they not
in touch enough with the feelings of their constituency to make those
decisions? They certainly claim to be in touch on decisions not so
This election is going to cost the state - that's you and me, folks - $1.5
million. That's a $1.5 million shelter for those cowards to hide under.
Two things need to happen as a result of this vote: 1) we should all
vote no and let them squirm and 2) get rid of them in November 2000.
Cowards can be found slinking in any dark room. Only the brave will
stand in the light of day.
Join me in voting no. Protect your Permanent Fund and throw the
rascals out.
- Clyde Baxley

Sales tax worth trying
I have an idea that I think many of my fellow Alaskans may like. Let's
assume that there really is a state budget shortfall and that we really
need to get the funds from someplace. Well, folks, there is no free
lunch. Instead of raiding the Permanent Fund, which is still doing very
well, let's have a state sales tax between April and October.
Sales tax is an equitable tax: You spend more and you pay more tax.
Imposing the tax during the warm season will allow our visitors to
support the infrastructure that they use, too. Please don't tell me that
our tourist industry would suffer, because we pay their sales taxes
when we go down to America. When you can afford a vacation, you
go where you want to go. To have the tax applied for only part of the
year would create some interesting, positive effects for the state
economy as well.
Would anyone else like to try this plan?
- Joel Curtis

Dividend can aid learning
Vote no on the upcoming budget advisory requested by the state
Legislature. If each child receiving a Permanent Fund dividend check
were able to put that amount into a savings account or certificate of
deposit every year from the time of that child's first check, by the time
of that child's high school graduation there would be enough to fund a
year or more of college or trade school here in the state. What a way
to support our institutions of higher learning!
- Dorothy A. Anderson

Dividend cuts unfair
I have started this letter about a dozen times but I had a hard time
getting to the crux of the matter. So here goes. Brian Porter states that
if we do not vote yes on the Permanent Fund dividend raid there is no
guarantee that there will be a dividend for our children. Question: If we
vote no, where do they get the authority to deplete the fund? Now, I
know that this is just an advisory vote with no real power, but if they
already have the authority to raid the fund, why go through the voting
process? So I (and several others apparently) need an explanation of
how the money goes from the Permanent Fund to the working budget.
Have they not been taking money all along? Why do they need to
reduce the dividend to support their spending?
Next, how exactly is reducing the dividend any different than a head
tax on every resident in this great state? The argument, I suppose, is
that the dividend is found money that we don't work for and so we
should be happy for whatever crumbs they throw our way.
Poppycock. In the almost 20 years that it has been around, many
families depend on it as a source of income. We pay federal income
tax on it.
So how fair is it for a family of seven with an income of around, let's
say, $40,000 a year to pay around $2,800 from their checks and a
two-worker family with an income of, let's say, $130,000 to pay
$800, given a reduction of just $400 per check? The family of seven
pays about 7 percent of their income. The family of two pays about
0.61 percent - less than 1 percent compared to 7 percent. How is that
- Theron McGrew

Public needs more information
The way the phraseology of the Sept. 14 ballot is written causes one
to wonder what the public is being asked to approve the future
legislators and governors do with various sources of state revenues.
The first sentence, "Shall the Permanent Fund earnings be used to
balance the budget?" begs the question, "How high will the future
budget be that will need balancing?"
The public needs to be cautious of what you give the governor and the
future legislators when they use phraseology such as "a stable and
sustainable long-term balanced budget plan." It is appalling to see both
the executive and legislative branches continue to say "continue state
'general fund' budget reduction." By now the average citizen knows
this budget category has decreased mostly due to taking major
expenditures out of "general fund" and starting over 85 new categories
of expenditures since 1984. We have not decreased state spending
per capita when you add all sources of revenues coming into the state.
To help motivate the public to vote yes in the special election,
proponents guarantee the principle of the Permanent Fund remain
untouchable. Well, whoopie! It's already untouchable.
Fear of future personal taxation is currently the major emotional appeal
supporters of the ballot are using to obtain public support. Any stable,
attentive, elected official quickly learns never to make confusing,
complex legislation on fears and emotions of today.
Before asking the public to say yes on the ballot question, I think the
current Legislature should develop a process that is simple and clearly
informs the public and themselves of all sources of revenues and
expenditures and quit saying you cut the "general fund" thus misleading
the public that the past and future budgets are smaller.
- Terry Martin

Vote against the queen
Voters need to be made aware that a "no" vote means you keep the
money. A yes vote means the queen gets the money. Who's the queen,
you ask? Well, BP of course. BP oil is backing the yes vote and BP is
British Petroleum. The last time I checked, the queen of England cares
a lot more about BP than she does your children and mine.
BP is attempting to buy out Arco and also trying to manipulate you into
voting yes in September, which I believe will increase their
shareholders' stock. You see, if they can convince you the sky might
be falling, then you might vote to let the Legislature spend your
Permanent Fund dividend check, freeing up millions that BP may have
to cough up.
My family and I will be voting no in September. A no vote means you
and your family will be able to keep our PFD money in our state and
force the Legislature to tell the queen she has enough jewels and
- Eddie Burke, Anchorage coordinator
Save Your Dividend Vote No Committee


Taxes can bring 'balance
Taxes not only pay for state and federal public services such as police
and fire protection and the military, they can also be a means of
redistributing the nation's production of wealth more fairly. Ordinary
people, the working-class majority, receive a very small portion of the
national pie; most of it goes to the wealthy few, especially the top 1
Taxes, principally the progressive income tax, can help to right the
balance a little, in effect requiring those the system has favored to
contribute to the minimal support of those it has not. But conservatives
- the affluent, the comfortable - hate the progressive income tax, as
they hate "the welfare state." They will not share, no matter that the
economics game is sharply tilted in their favor, and no matter how
much they have. Their tax "reforms," like the one now passed by
Republicans in Washington, invariably benefit the wealthy, with a little
allowed to trickle down to workers. Conservatives are always pushing
for regressive forms of taxation, like flat, sales and excise taxes, which
fall heaviest on low- and moderate-income families. States regularly
impose such taxes in hard times and reduce income taxes in good
times, thereby burdening the average American to relieve the
well-to-do both coming and going.
Alaska's Republican Legislature, true to type, is now proposing what
in effect would be a regressive flat tax: They want to take from the
Permanent Fund to pay for state government, claiming it's the only
way. They are lying. They could (but won't) get the money needed
from those least harmed by giving it, through a progressive income tax
and from Big Oil.
And now watch the outraged letters pour in.
- Bob Durr

Public muzzled on special election
The Frontiersman / June 15, 1999

A few short issues ago, we commented on the Sept. 14 special election set by the Alaska Legislature. That election is to obtain an advisory vote from the public on the legislature's desire to spend earnings generated by the state's Permanent Fund to pay for state government. And it seeks to limit the Permanent Fund Dividend checks each Alaskan receives annually to $1,700 for the next two years, with the third year's check estimated at approximately $1,300.

Since legislators are not bound in any way to follow the results of advisory votes by the public, we suggested that interested individuals might want to start a ballot initiative to change the advisory vote to a binding vote. In other words, to change the special election to compel the legislature to abide by the public's decision.

We still believe the advice was sound but, by setting Sept. 14 as the date of the special election, the legislature has effectively muzzled the public's opportunity to promote a ballot initiative or referendum in this election. In other words, all Alaskans will be able to do in the special election is advise the legislature to either go forward with its plan to cap at least two dividend checks and appropriate, or spend, the Permanent Fund's earnings to operate state government. A vote the legislature can, and probably will, ignore, particularly if the public advises the legislature to keep its hands out of the Permanent Fund.

A public referendum cannot be used in this case because the state's guidelines for referenda require them to be on an election ballot more than 180 days after adjournment of the legislative session at which the act or bill was passed. By setting the special advisory vote election for Sept. 14 less than 140 days from session end legislators made sure no public referendum on the issue could be approved for this election, let alone be voted on by the public.

Historically, the state has never held an election, special or otherwise, so near the end of a legislative session, which makes the scheduling of this election suspect.

A ballot initiative probably will not work for the Sept. 14 election either. Unlike referenda, which seek to alter an act of the legislature, initiatives are the means by which the public can place new laws on the general election ballot. But the state requires initiative sponsors to get state approval of the initiative's language before an initiative petition may be circulated. And requires signatures by legitimately registered state voters comprising at least 10 percent of the total vote in the last general election. And requires those signatures be from voters residing in at least 75 percent of the state's 40 voting districts. Thus, it is unlikely such a measure could be approved in time to make it on the Sept. 14 ballot.

We believe the legislature erred in limiting the public's voice on such important matters. We are not, however surprised. These are the same legislators who promised the public a vote on subsistence, then refused to put the issue on last November's general election ballot. Applying that little muzzle means the federal government will take over management of Alaska's subsistence fisheries this coming October.

To all those who were encouraged to start a referendum or ballot initiative by our last editorial on the subject, we say: stick with it just aim for the year 2000 general election ballot instead. This should provide ample time to meet all the state's requirements to get your concerns on that year's ballot.

In our last editorial on this subject, we also got on the legislature's case for not allowing voters more options than the above. We suggested they should have allowed voters to consider approving a statewide sales tax to generate new revenues, from residents and visiting non-residents alike, to help cover state government costs.


Valley rights not exercising rights
The Frontiersman / August 17, 1999

There was a time when Valley voters went to the polls in respectable numbers for local, state and federal elections. But, in the last decade or so, the number of residents who actually vote has dramatically shrunk.

About 25 percent of registered voters who list Mat-Su as their home participated in last years legislative and congressional elections, meaning the people representing us at various government levels are being elected by a minority of residents.

Since our democratic system is based on majority rule, it is not good that so few citizens are willing to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Why? Because it means their voices are not being heard, and that candidates can pander to the whims and issues of only a few when they are elected to represent all of us.

It is unclear why Valley residents are not voting, particularly when it is almost impossible to find one who does not have a strong opinion on many of the issues affecting us. From subsistence to taxing their permanent fund dividend check; from the school system to the condition of our roads and highways; from the right to keep and bear arms to evolution vs. creationism, Mat-Su residents are outspoken in their opinions until it comes to the one time they can voice their opinion in a manner that will actually make a difference: their vote!

At the Frontiersman we hear people give many reasons for neglecting this critical exercise of their rights. Some say government cannot be trusted, others that it does not matter if they vote because special interests actually run everything anyway. Some claim their commute to Anchorage leaves no time to study the issues or the stances candidates take on those issues. And some simply say they do not see any candidate who inspires them enough to trek to the polls.

By failing to vote, these residents are leaving the decision of who will represent them in city hall, the legislature, school boards and on issues to someone else. In effect, they are disenfranchising themselves.

We believe this is not only the wrong approach, it is a dangerous approach in terms of keeping the democratic process alive and healthy. Accordingly, we encourage all Valley residents to exercise their constitutional right to vote. To do this, residents must be registered to vote 30 days before an election. The state Division of Elections just issued a release that it has purged 23,000 names from its registered voters list, meaning some residents may have to vote challenged ballots for the Sept. 14 special election on reducing the amount they will receive in their dividend checks. But there is still time to register for the Oct. 5 local elections.

The elections division purges the names of those who have moved out of state, and those who have failed to vote in several past elections.

Valley residents should not throw away such an important right. Check with the elections division to see if you are registered to vote and, if not, get registered and let your voice be heard in the one place where it can make a difference: the ballot box.

Otherwise, residents have no one to blame but themselves for the kind of government and representation they receive.

Cut, cut, cut
Last week, House Speaker Brian Porter made this statement:
"The Legislature will be FORCED to start taking our PFD earnings
without approval of The Gail Phillips Plan."
Well, we poor folks would also like a plan, one that would FORCE
the Legislature to downsize government.
Rep. Porter also said, "Even if the plan is adopted, there will be room
for more TAXES." Notice the "S" in "taxes." He has more than the
Phillips' Plan on his agenda.
From we folks in the Peninsula at $500 a head, he wants $21.7
million. He, like Clinton, believes he can spend that money better than
we poor folks! Not one word at that luncheon was said about
chopping the budget, only us! The previous Legislatures in their
seemingly infinite wisdom and expert planning have managed to put this
state in the hole $1.2 billion, and all the while, we poor, ignorant folks
who don't know how to handle money have been telling them we only
have a beer income, not a champagne one. Stop spending money. Cut,
cut, cut!
Well, they ignored us, and now they find themselves deeper in the
proverbial stuff than they can wiggle out of and are trying their hardest
to suck us in there with them! If you fail to vote no on Sept. 14, they
might just be successful!
- Jerry B. Scholes
Fritz Creek

Side with most votes wins
If you think that the "no" votes on using the Permanent Fund for such
purposes as the governing forces of the state are going to win the
upcoming election, prepare for the shock of your lives.
Mr. Doogan is right: it doesn't matter at all that the conventional
wisdom on this problem is all in favor of the no vote. Take a look at
that last sentence: "vote."
The winner of this election will be the side with the most votes. You
can say what you will. The only thing that matters is your actual,
physical vote.
- Jerry Conley

Why can't the state budget?
There is something wrong here! I understood back when the state put
together a portion of money (from oil) for a rainy day (for the state)
that was considerable and has grown since, and a portion put back for
a Permanent Fund (for the people). As far as I can find out, the state
has not used it up at all. It's still there. Why are they crying for the
people to give up some of their Permanent Fund?
Is this a con job? Have they spent so much over the budget that they
need to rob the Permanent Fund? I'm a housewife and I can stay in my
budget. Why can't they do it?
Let's all ask questions.
- Vivian Browner

Vote should offer alternatives
As a citizen I own a share of Alaska's oil. The state manages my share
of the oil wealth for me, taking a portion of the profits for itself and
giving the rest to me through the Permanent Fund dividend program. If
the state starts keeping a larger share of this money, then that is a tax.
Since the legislative majority in Juneau has made it clear that it will
impose some kind of tax to solve its budget problems, the question
that needs answering is what kind of tax is best? Capping the
Permanent Fund taxes the person earning $10,000 per year the same
amount as the person earning $100,000 or more per year.
An income tax would tax residents and nonresidents alike based on
their ability to pay. In addition, a state income tax is deductible from
one's federal income taxes. Since Alaska's income tax was abolished,
we have been subsidizing government in other states through larger
federal income tax payments.
An advisory vote on how to solve the Republican budget crisis should
include all possible solutions, including a sales tax, income tax or higher
corporate taxes. Any ballot measure that does not include these
options is intentionally misleading and should be rejected.
- Jeff Friedman

Pity the poor rich people

Dick Shellhorn (Letters, Aug. 15) now fails to mention that by stealing all of our kids' dividends from all of the outlying villages, the poor rich people who make $100,000 a year and pay $15,000 in federal taxes won't have to pay state taxes.

- Fred Noden



Other states work with fund

The governor and the legislators were elected to run the state government supposedly in an efficient manner. They did not do that! They grossly overspent their budget. Now they want to be bailed out via the Permanent Fund.

If we, the state citizens, do bail them out, we are approving their overspending. Then they will keep overspending year after year and will want to be bailed out year after year via the Permanent Fund until it's all gone.

The time to stop this nonsense is now! We need to tell them to stay within the budget and leave the Permanent Fund alone. There are 49 other states that seem to manage without a Permanent Fund. It can be done.

If the current group can't do the job they were elected to do perhaps we need to find someone who can.

- Ken Moore



Legislators must hear 'no'

All the ads I've been seeing that argue for a yes vote on what amounts to a dividend tax claim that defeat of this de facto tax would spell the end of the Permanent Fund. I find this argument utterly revolting in its deliberate dishonesty.

The only reason we're even being asked to vote on the question is because Alaskans elected legislators who swore not to touch the fund or the dividend without a vote of the people - and those legislators knew that if they broke that pledge they'd be kicked out of office en masse.

The "Vote Yes" crowd seems to think that if Alaskans reject the dividend tax, this will somehow embolden these legislators to do something they had every chance to do last January but simply wouldn't.

A yes vote on Sept. 14 will give state bureaucrats a stake in the Alaska Permanent Fund for the first time in its existence. Once that happens, you can count on demands for a bigger and bigger share of the fund's earnings to be diverted into the same wasteful spending that nearly ruined Alaska just under a decade ago, spending that still isn't completely under control today.

The best way to safeguard the Permanent Fund is to defeat the special interests fueling these lying ads - and do so overwhelmingly. Once the politicians see that Alaskans are still every bit as protective of the fund as ever, they'll scrap plans to divert its earnings to the bureaucracy and look to more appropriate means to deal with the state's fiscal mess.

Vote no.

- Kevin McGehee

North Pole


State should be responsible

Before we go throwing good money after bad, shouldn't the state of Alaska show a history of financial responsibility?

Or should the taxpayers again be made to pay for their ineptitude?

- J.M. Albee



Military shouldn't get PFD

I must first say I do not always stay up on the latest when it comes to politics, and I would probably go crazy if I did. When it comes to the Permanent Fund, it affects all of us. I have a couple solutions of my own that could maybe make all of us happy.

1. Have the lottery like most other states do. Alaska could get a percentage of all monies from tickets sold each week. Most Alaskans have gambling fever; we all hope we could get rich quick. Look at the bingo halls, they are always so packed you can't even find a parking space. We also have pull-tab businesses on almost every corner. I think bringing the lottery to Alaska would do very well and the state would benefit from it for years.

2. The amount of time you have to be resident in order to receive the Permanent Fund dividend should change. If I had my way, I would change it to five years for several different reasons. The people in the military should not be able to come up here and after a short time receive money that is for Alaskans when they will be leaving again to go somewhere else. I think this money is for those of us who are committed Alaskans and have full intent on keeping it that way.

3. To the politicians who want to cap our PFD: Why don't you take a salary cut? You make too much money as it is. The average person who goes out and works his hands to the bone doesn't even make half of what you do.

Susan Lenardson



Time to clean house, senate and the governor's mansion

Just think, if we vote yes on Sept. 14 and allow the politicians to spend the Permanent Fund, never again will our leaders be required to stand before us and profess to protect the fund with all their might. A yes vote means an end to a 20-year partnership with the people being a 51 percent shareholder.

It has come time for all of us to retake our one special vow that unites us as Alaskans. It's a very easy to understand message to any tyrant willing to put his or her job on the line in pursuit of bigger government. It states, "No government official will be re-elected after announcing their intention to raid the Permanent Fund."

It's time to clean house, Alaska. First, vote no on Sept. 14, then elect someone else.

Patrick Knowles



Don't let them cut PFD

Please vote no cut to Permanent Fund dividends.

Oil prices rose. Last winter, oil prices sank to $9. Someone suggested raiding the Permanent Fund; people predicted oil prices would stay down for years. That prediction was badly mistaken; oil prices usually change, and did change. Higher oil prices mean government does not so desperately need money now. Vote no.

Even if government needed money, you should vote no, because this plan hurts most our low-income Alaskan neighbors and Alaskan children. PFD cuts drop each person's income an equal number of dollars, but equal-dollar cuts most hurt the people with the fewest dollars. If PFDs drop $700 each, that's 41 percent of a baby's $1,700 PFD check, 20 percent to a subsistence user receiving $3,500, just 1 percent to someone earning $70,000 a year, but only 0.0005 of a millionaire's $1.4 million income. This backward plan hurts most hard Alaska people with the lowest incomes. Vote no.

This plan's loose language gives legislators almost total freedom. There's no limit to "yes." It's just an advisory vote, but your advice should be no.

The other side's TV ad claims that voting yes will "save" your PFDs. Save PFDs by cutting them? Save PFDs by giving legislators unlimited discretion? Save PFDs with cuts when oil prices are high? Can those TV claims be true? Vote no.

The other side also talks about "original intent," but things have changed. Vote no on Sept. 14.

Don't let them cut your PFD! Vote NO.

Joe Sonneman



A Simple solution

I have an idea about tapping the Permanent Fund. Those who would vote yes can simply donate their checks to state government. Those of us who would vote no can keep ours. -

Tom Svabik, age 11


Webmaster's comments:


Can you say it so eloquently?


Legislators want too much

Allowing the Legislature access to the Permanent Fund is like handing a lawyer your checkbook and saying "Take what you need" and adding, "You don't need to tell me how you're spending it." No fiscally responsible person would allow unfettered access to his savings account. Why should we?

The Legislature would have you believe that if they spend part of the Permanent Fund now, they wouldn't spend all of it later. Think about that. If a bear comes along and eats half your food cache, what are the odds he's gonna come back and eat the rest later?

Also, notice who is financing the the current "Vote Yes" campaign. Big Money interests that don't want to pay taxes any more than you and me. Spending the Permanent Fund taxes our savings, not their earnings. That's why it's a regressive tax with the greatest impact on the poorest people.

Vote NO on Sept. 14. -

Will and Shirley Fraser



Voter guide insulted Hammond

This letter is to comment on how the lieutenant governor in my opinion slammed Gov. Jay Hammond. On page 8 of the official election pamphlet for the special advisory vote, the statement in support is by Gov. Steve Cowper, Gov. Walter J. Hickel and Gov. Bill Sheffield. On page 9 of the same election pamphlet the statement in opposition is by Jay S. Hammond. Last time I checked, Jay S. Hammond is just as entitled to the title of governor as the other former governors.

Gov. Jay S. Hammond is the only reason we have a Permanent Fund and a dividend check. I am joining Gov. Hammond in voting no in this election because I believe the person who created it is the person that is most likely to protect it.

I also feel that Fran Ulmer (yes, I left the title off on purpose) owes Gov. Jay Hammond an apology.

Warren Redfearn


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Supporters of Vote


Elected officials
  • Gov. Jay Hammond
  • Sen. Dave Donely
  • Sen. Lyda Green
  • Sen. Rick Halford
  • Sen. Robin Taylor
  • Sen. Jerry Ward
  • Rep Mary Sattler Kapsner
  • Rep Vic Kohring
  • Rep. Bev Masek
  • Rep Scott Ogan
  • Rep Jerry Sanders
  • Doyle Holmes, Assby.
  • Mayor Sarah Palin
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