Sept 15, 1999
|Save Your PFD
Sept 14, 1999
for YES vote
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.
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.
- Kevin McGehee
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.
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.
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.
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
FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABIES!
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.
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