Sept 15, 1999
|Save Your PFD
Sept 14, 1999
for YES vote
Cut state spending first
To vote yes on the upcoming ballot proposal is indirectly an endorsement the current state budget. I for one will vote no, because I think our legislators have not even come close to adequately cutting the budget.
The squabble over the state Department of Environmental Conservation cuts last session were a smoke-screen by state agencies and other politicians who claim "the sky is falling." They do not understand the value of really necessary state services and optional services. The cuts to DEC and municipal revenue sharing last session were intentional by our legislators to have an immediate impact and deceive us into thinking additional other agency cuts will hurt as much. I say bring on the "hurting." It is no stretch of my imagination that at least $350 million of the current projected $500 million to $700 million shortfall can be made through additional spending cuts. I say that legislators should go back to the drawing board on this topic before they ask me for any of my dividend. I will say "yes" only after they achieve this first.
PFD cap is a hidden tax
In the last several years the PFD has doubled in value to a level around $1,500. In the next several years the PFD will, if the market continues to grow, double once again.
If the politicos determine to cap the payments to the owners of the fund(you and me) at say, $1,500, then as the fund grows and doublesagain, every dollar above the $1,500 cap amounts to an insidious hiddentax.
So it logically deduces that without our ever really knowing, we will be paying an enormous tax that is not deductible, invisible and without our knowledge or consent. And we will then see a drive to establish thevisible taxes as well.
Maybe we should leave the dividend as it is, receive the full amount and then argue over what kind of visible tax we are willing to pay to keep our bureaucracies alive. After all, we can work a plan that bringstaxes due about the same time the dividend arrives. Hmmm?
L. Alan LeMaster
Plan separate funds
For 10 years I have told anyone who would listen that no matter how successful the Permanent Fund seems to be, it is doomed to fail because it is saddled with two purposes. How can it be both the people's share of Alaska's oil wealth and also the state government's rainy day fund?
At last, on Sept. 2, I read the guest editorial by Dr. John Gerster expressing the same line of thought. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize two separate purposes should call for two separate funds.
How should we do it? The people's Permanent Fund should give up its yearly oil company tax money to the new fund. That would make the people's fund pure capitalism from today onward, an investment fund in which all the people belong, even those yet unborn.
The tax money flowing into the Permanent Fund is roughly $300 million per year. Taking that and the money from the Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund and other state funds available, the people's Permanent Fund would probably have to transfer about $5 billion of its balance and the new State Operating Fund could be up and running. Properly managed and its earnings wisely spent only as needed with the remainder re-invested into itself, the State Operating Fund could itself become permanent.
Then forever we would have a purely capitalist people's Permanent Fund paying dividends on its own earnings to the people. Meanwhile, politicians would have their own State Operating Fund.
Sept. 14, vote no and let's give ourselves and our politicians some time to devise a better solution to Alaska's long-term financial planning then those currently on the table.
James R. Borsetti Palmer
Reject a blank check
For those of you out there who are confused with all of the hype about the Permanent Fund issue, here is what I believe to be the bottom line:
Voting yes means that we will continue to get a certain amount of dividend money each year, but it also means that the Legislature gets to spend the same amount we are given each year, even if it's not needed, on anything they want. That is until they drain the account dry like they did the budget reserve account. Then they will go for a state tax. What next?
Voting no means that we, the residents of Alaska, reject the idea of a blank check every year to the Legislature and that we will not allow the spending of any portion of the Permanent Fund dividend for nonspecific items that are deemed worthy by the state Legislature. Saying no gives a clear message to the Legislature that it must live within its means (like we do as individuals), balance and or cut spending by using the money it has been allocated already without dipping into our Fund.
We will continue to receive our dividend checks each year regardless of the media hype that says a yes vote will guarantee us getting our dividend checks every year and a no vote will stop our checks from coming. I say to the Legislature, read my lips: No spending my Permanent Fund on your mismanagement of the state budget.
Everyone, please, take time to vote in this special election, your vote does count!
Vote no on Sept. 14!
Raise corporate tax on oil
We could balance our state budget if all Alaska corporations paid the same state corporate income tax rate - including oil companies!
Oil companies pay an Alaska corporate income tax rate that is 200 percent lower than any other nonoil corporation in Alaska.
Alaska used a method of separate in-state accounting for calculating corporate oil income taxes from 1979 to 1981. In 1979 the oil companies sued, charging that separate accounting was unconstitutional. In 1981, Republican Joe Hayes and his coalition overthrew the Democratic majority in mid-session of the Legislature. Worldwide oil income averaging was then enacted, instead of putting the disputed revenue in escrow pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
Alaska won this lawsuit in 1985. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled that separate accounting was a more accurate method. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision, saying worldwide accounting "is subject to manipulation."
We still use worldwide accounting. Alaska's corporate income tax rate is 9.4 percent for all corporations except oil companies, who have paid a 3 percent corporate income tax rate since 1982.
Michael J. Bruner
Why pay for special sessions?
With all the hubbub about the yes/no vote, maybe we should look at one of the contributing causes of the "needed" vote. How many times in the past few years has the Legislature been "required" to be called into special session to finish its job? By the way, who is paying for this vote?
As I understand it, we pay legislators (by means of oil revenues) to perform their duties in Juneau within 120 days. When they fail to do their job in a timely manner, the governor is "forced to call a special session" in order for these nonproductive legislators to get their unfinished work done. Sounds pretty good to me. Where do we sign up?
These special sessions only add to the government deficit we are facing. I know that in the big picture, the special session costs are small. But if we allow these legislators to keep nonproducing, who is responsible? Whom do we blame for this waste? Ourselves.
Perhaps if we explain to these legislators that if they are once again required to be called back to Juneau to finish their work, then they should pay the total expenses out of their own pockets. Or how about firing them all and getting some new people to do the work on time! Would that wake them up?
Is it just a coincidence that $1 billion divided by 650,000 Alaskans is about what the Permanent Fund dividend amount is? If the legislators can't spend their $6 billion operational budget efficiently, how will spending more be any more efficient? I am not saying vote yes or no. I am asking a question.
Preston O. Hughes
Financial woes solvable
Gov. Jay Hammond has advocated reinstating a state income tax for more than 10 years, precisely to avoid the present state financial gap. Had a modest state income tax been in place for even six or seven years, the state would not have a budget gap today.
Politicians, however, would rather find huge sums of money where there are the least restrictions with no accountability to anyone. Tapping the Permanent Fund is that perennial temptation that has become unbearable for them. That is why an advisory vote on the PFD is on the ballot.
The advisory vote is unfair. It disenfranchises thousands of children who lawfully receive their Permanent Fund dividend but cannot vote to save it. If the advisory vote is to be fair and equitable, every Alaskan who qualifies for the PFD should have a vote. If age is a constitutional problem, then parents should have the number of votes equal to number of members in the family. Where is the equal protection of the law?
My suggestion is to 1) immediately re-instate a state income tax and 2) since the State of Alaska is a corporate entity and all Alaskans are members thereof, it also should receive a Permanent Fund dividend. To be fair, it should be equal to the sum that all qualified Alaskans receive. If $500 million is the total amount qualified Alaskans receive in a given year, that's what the state should receive.
With a moderate state income tax and a multimillion-dollar PFD to state government, along with reduction of inflated government salaries and slashing of some wasteful welfare programs, the financial gap would be solved very soon. Vote no!
Father Simeon Oskolkoff
Vote is just a sucker punch
Old sailor Jay Hammond has finally come ashore from the billionaire's yacht long enough to expound that the Sept. 14 vote should be canceled. Alas, he's too late. Gov. Knowles, his bathroom Cabinet and our sleazy Legislature have combined to make sure that Alaskans have only a Hobson's choice between having their Permanent Fund clipped at the source or having their pockets picked with an everlasting income tax.
Meanwhile, back in the multinational oil patch, BP's Sir John Browne has dumped $200 million into Russia. If he dips into the Arco strongbox to repair this little faux pas, guess who will pay next time the Russian Mafia makes a sap of him.
Vote any way you please on the 14th, or use your time off to visit the pub, for we were suckered on this one. Cheer up, however. Alaskans in 2000 have one more chance to make history: Organize now to be the first state to vote all the rascals out in one swell poop!
Why not a state lottery?
I have been waffling on the Permanent Fund vote. I originally intended to vote yes. After all, using some of the income for the state budget in dire times of need was part of the original thinking when the fund was founded.
However, there are other avenues for income. A state sales tax from April to October so that tourists can help pay for the wear and tear of our roads. Even better, a state lottery.
I was hesitant on the lottery until I did some research on a few other states and their lotteries. This is just a sampling. If you are interested, just search the Internet.
Arizona: 1998, $78 million returned to state government for programs.
Vermont: 30.58 percent of income goes to education.
Illinois: 1998, $560 million to education.
California: Since 1985, $10.7 billion to education.
Idaho: 1998, $19.5 million to education.
Washington: 1998, more than $100 million to state programs.
Oregon: More than $225 million to state programs annually.
We have lotteries in Alaska for land, cars and other prizes, and we have bingo. Why not a state lottery? Though you may not win the big money, all Alaskans would benefit from the income.
Get rid of inept politicos
The pressure is certainly on. We are being asked to bail out the political ineptitude that got us into this mess.
The economy may fall. Big deal, let it tumble. In picking up the pieces, you can be assured the ones who deserve funding the least will scream the loudest.
In rebuilding, we can pick and choose essential services and let the gravy train slide off the track.
Vote no, save the Permanent Fund, eliminate those in the Legislature who lack the imagination or the guts to promote the interests of the people of this state!
Arlen E. Johnson
Keep government fingers out
I have a question: How did this vote on the PFD even make it to the ballot? Gov. Tony Knowles promised in his campaign speeches that he would never touch the Permanent Fund. But I guess that goes with the rest of his garbage campaign promises.
It is my understanding that when the fund was set up, the state was alloted about $93 million off the top to invest or spend on legitimate projects. Of course, it went into the general fund and was promptly spent on roads that went nowhere and other nonsense projects. And that is exactly where the money the state is trying to snatch off the public will go again with no controls because it will go directly into the general fund.
Our state government does not have the sense to invest anything, much less wisely. There are too many pork-belly projects and too many of the "good ol' fellers" around to even consider giving the government 2 cents. Consider the Exxon Valdez money to go with the $93 million invested like the Permanent Fund, the state would be extremely well off.
If the public is stupid enough to open their pocketbooks to greed and avarice, they deserve what they get.
A state lottery with ironclad laws to govern it and earmarked to go directly to the schools would ensure every student in Alaska a more than adequate education. Oregon has profited handsomely, and the system is working well. Just make darn certain the state can't get its greasy little fingers into it.
Yes backs government greed
Did Gov. Jay Hammond create a "flexible fund"? No!
Don't we as families cut our spending when revenues fall? Yes!
Can honest government cut its spending and be as responsible? Yes!
Didn't Gov. Tony Knowles receive a compliment at the National Conference of Governors for achieving a $3 billion budget reserve for Alaska? Yes!
Isn't a yes vote a vote for government greed and a supplement to big business at our expense? Yes!
PFD vote clouds issues
The propaganda surrounding the advisory vote is focusing too much on the loss/preservation of individual Permanent Fund dividend checks. Using Permanent Fund earnings for government expenditures affects citizens much deeper than just losing a check. However, by condensing this issue into a single factor, both sides have clouded the real issues and have created an emotional debate to secure votes.
If you vote to allow the government to use part of the Permanent Fund earnings, the government will essentially be able to continue spending at its current level. All of us will not see in the immediate future much reduction in the programs that affect us. But is current spending too high? What happens in a few years when the earnings don't cover the budget gap? Are we simply putting off an income tax? The budget gap is not just a matter of too many government employees receiving high salaries working 37.5 hours a week. It's about too much money being spent in too many places. Too many citizens have become accustomed to their fringe benefits and expect funding to continue.
If you vote no, hopefully the Legislature will not tap into the fund earnings anyway and instead will look for ways to balance the budget. This means you won't lose your PFD check. However, every citizen could see a decrease in spending in areas like education, road maintenance and public safety. A no vote will pressure legislators to cut spending or find other ways for income, such as a seasonal sales tax or income tax, whereby the tax hopefully will never be more than the dividend received (a wash).
This is about government spending more than its income. No household or business could get away with this. Neither should the government. Get information and make an informed decision on Sept. 14. It will affect our future directly.
Natasha Von Imhof
Elderly need the fund
We have a chance to tell our politicians to keep their hands out of our savings accounts. I hope every elderly person in Anchorage votes no. We need those bucks! It's like a pension check that keeps getting bigger.
Income tax would hurt more
There's been a lot of recent discussion about taking part of the dividend vs. an income tax. I think there's a misconception out there that only the "rich" would be paying tax while we would all get to keep our dividend. My family isn't rich by any measure. We work hard every day and make a good income for our efforts. Under the governor's income tax plan, we would have paid several thousand dollars more in income taxes than our dividend provides. In effect, the income tax would be taking away my family's dividend and then some. This would allow the state to continue to give dividends to lower-income families.
If we institute an income tax and keep the dividend, we should at least rename the dividend to what it will become: welfare.
Media make it all clearer
You know, for a while there I was confused about the fiscal gap and the Permanent Fund, but now the media has straightened it all out for me. If we spend it, we keep it. If we save it, we lose it. And in either case we don't need to reduce the budget. Thanks, guys, for clearing this all up.
George E. Lukens Jr.
Some kids cheated of dividend
There are compelling arguments cited for either a yes vote or a no vote in the Permanent Fund advisory election. Regardless of which side prevails, I am compelled to ask the electorate, elected officials and the Daily News to consider an issue I've never seen addressed regarding the issuance of the dividend checks: There are absolutely no safeguards in place to ensure that parents actually use their children's checks to benefit their children.
It is wonderful to know that many children's parents have invested every dividend and created a trust fund of sorts for their children's futures. Or to know that many parents have thoughtful discussions with their children and make decisions together about purchasing school clothes, a computer to assist with studies, or choosing to splurge a certain portion an a much desired bike or an enriching trip for children, etc.
Sad to say, however, there are countless other children who, year after year, do not benefit from the PFD program in any way and are sometimes even harmed by the large windfall when their parents blow the children's money on drugs and alcohol or toys and luxury items for themselves. This is why some of the cries about the proposed plan taxing or taking money away from children ring false to me.
I'm not advocating that the government dictate to parents precisely how to deal with their children's dividends, but I am urging that some protective measures be enacted to ensure that children actually do benefit from this program.
Income tax fair way to pay
Initially, I leaned toward "yes" on the Sept. 14 advisory vote. Then I took a look at all the people who were encouraging me to vote "yes" and decided to think about it a little more. Then I received the hard sell for "yes" disguised as a poll and found it offensive.
It seems to me that many of the people who are so in favor of a "yes" vote are the same people who over the last several years have ignored or shrugged off the various versions of the Cremo Plan proposed by Roger Cremo. When Jim Campbell suggested that the Cremo Plan might be worth consideration, Tony Knowles rejected it as a "raid on the Permanent Fund." The main differences between the Cremo Plan and the plan to be put before the voters on Sept. 14 are that the Cremo Plan was well-thought-out, carefully and intelligently presented, and made a lot of sense.
The folks who want me to vote "yes" would do well to consult with Roger Cremo and have him present the plan to the voters.
For now, I can live with a state income tax, if it comes to that. I have paid state income taxes before, both here and elsewhere, and consider it as fair a method of paying for services as can be found.
As for our elected officials who are promoting the current plan, let them come up with something that makes sense. They have a whole year before they have to face the voters again.
Sounds like extortion
I appreciated the article "Complaints fault Vote Yes polling" because I thought the poll was very slanted in favor of voting yes and the public needs to know to what extent the legislators and the Vote Yes campaign people will go in their efforts to deceive Alaskans. All Alaskans need to vote no on Sept. 14. The Legislature is trying to pull the wool over our eyes and we need to let them know we are not stupid.
The Legislature created this idea of taxing only those of us who receive the Permanent Fund dividend checks, then they plugged in the plan to save the PFD to persuade us to buy into their plan to rob it. How fair is it for them to say they will protect our dividend only if we let them spend some of it? Sounds like extortion to me.
I understand that this is only one of the fixes the Legislature came up with, and in addition to this taxing of the PFD, they may also impose a broad tax of some sort, like a sales tax. Some of us will be taxed twice and others only once, is that right?
I have heard more people accepting the idea of a seasonal sales tax so all Alaskans and visitors pay their fair share. This sales tax would be minimal in comparison to taxing only PFD recipients because it would be collected from a broader base of people.
I believe the legislators need to do what is best for Alaska and quit worrying about the impact it will have on their re-election campaigns.
Doogan's right; what's wrong?
I thought the answer was very simple: vote no on Permanent Fund deductions. Keep it the way it is. Simple, right!
My problem is that I have always voted Republican and agreed with the Voice of the Times. Now I find myself agreeing with the Daily News and Mike Doogan! Something is very wrong.
What the Legislature is telling us is this: "If you let us take just a little part of your dividend check, then we will control spending, pay all the bills and have enough left over to continue the dividend forever. But if you don't let us have a little of your dividend, well, then we cannot be responsible for what we will do. We could get completely out of control and spend everything, we can't help it, and your dividend will be gone!"
Common sense tells us to make them cut spending first, then use taxes as a very last resort. I think if they can't control themselves after we vote no, we need to make sure they are in the private sector, not in our government.
Budget solution: Turn to God
The state of Alaska is bankrupt. The perpetrators are the people who have foolishly spent beyond the income of the state. If Alaska were a business, it couldn't get a loan for a postage stamp. The debt-to-income ratio is more than what the state makes.
So who's to blame? Uncover who has been signing the bad checks and passing the ungodly bills. If we give them more money, they will spend it, too.
The truth hurts. Our government was under almighty God at one time, but has turned its face away and put its trust in men. Now we are reaping the results.
The solution is repent and return to God. That won't cost a dime for our government and state, but you know, it's too late, no one in power will listen. They are too worldly wise.
So, like it has been said, "We ain't seen nothin' yet," in reference to reaping the bad seeds they have sown. The only hope for us has always been in Jesus, so we better wake up and get to know Him now while there is still time left.
Fair-goers agree with AIP
I am writing to let Alaskans know how the Alaskan Independence Party/Vote No coalition fair booth was received this last week. The overwhelming majority of fair-goers were going to vote not only no but hell no. I know, I was there every day. Of those who acknowledged our presence, 99 percent said they were on the no side. Maybe a dozen people the whole time said they were going to vote yes, and nothing we could say would change their minds. Most people were very upset about the Vote Yes advertisements, and only a few were simply confused by them and asked for clarification. That required virtually no effort whatsoever. Had the yes campaign had a booth at the fair, I'm afraid, it would have been reduced to a pile of smoldering ash by the end of the first day! Alaskans were clearly angered by the propaganda blitz and its attempt to mislead the public.
This debacle has been an enormous boost for the AIP, as many are finally beginning to realize that we are the only party left in the state whose conservative foundation is based on the kind of liberty our founding fathers envisioned. Anyone who wishes to pony up to the bar and challenge the status quo need only contact the AIP and contact the party officials in your area. We have no social agenda, and we are open to all Alaskans. Read our platform. Join us. Make us the largest party in the state, and this kind of thing will never happen again. It's up to you, my brothers and sisters. Let's take back Alaska!
Remember how legislators vote
Congratulations to Rep. Jerry Sanders and Sens. Dave Donley, Rick Halford, Robin Taylor and Jerry Ward. Not only did they have the courage to vote against this ridiculous plan, but they pulled out their own money for an insert in the Daily News, explaining why they voted no.
The insert was very well done and articulated thoughtful reasons for a no vote. The yes side of this campaign has spent over half a million dollars on deceptive ads attempting to snooker Alaskans into voting yes. This is absurd. Have you thought about why the oil and tourist industry would spend that kind of money persuading us to give up $500 of our PFD check? The answer is clear. They would rather have you and your children pay so they pay nothing.
Not much media coverage has been given to legislators who stood up and voted against this plan. The above names are not the only legislators who voted no. Please take time to note how your legislator voted on this issue. It might be useful next time he or she runs for re-election.
Please vote Sept. 14. As Mike Doogan said, "It's does not matter what you and I think, it's who shows up to vote."
Eddie Burke, chairman
Save Your Dividend Vote No
Do you feel the cuts yet?
Something to consider before going to the polls:
Our state government is basically asking us to give them access to more money because they have cut spending to the bone and will be forced to lower essential services without our help. Please ask yourself this question: Do you feel the cuts? When I feel the cuts I will know that our legislators and governor are doing their jobs. Until then I will not vote to reward the government and penalize myself and my family. Do you feel the cuts?
Kimberly J. Bakic
This letter is to Mr. Porter, Ms. Pearce, Mr. Knowles, Mr. Langland and anyone else struggling to make a simple issue complex. Watch closely or you might miss it.
State budget deficit (read: overspending) = $1 billion; state budget = $6.5 billion; cutting state budget 15.4 percent = $1 billion (read: balanced budget).
It is time for a good housecleaning in Juneau, folks!
Yes advocate confused
I just finished reading the Sept. 2 Compass piece by Dr. John Gerster of the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation discussing the Permanent Fund vote.
This guy is more confused about the facts than John Lindauer! First he asserts that the money in the Permanent Fund doesn't belong to all Alaskans but to the state government. I hate to break the news to him, but the Permanent Fund does belongs to the citizens of Alaska and if we decide to blow it all on Beanie Babies and Delta barley we can do just that. Next he states that taking away the Permanent Fund is better than a tax because "most people either splurge and buy a ticket to Hawaii ... or save it." What happened to all the data I've seen showing what a huge impact the Permanent Fund has on local economies every year? I guess Dr. John didn't like that data, so it was successfully ignored.
Finally he makes the pitch that a sales tax is the most regressive tax. Wrong again! In general, a sales tax is regressive, but since people on lower incomes spend less money, a sales tax costs them less than it does people with higher incomes. Taking away some or all of the dividend is about as regressive as a tax can get, since rich and poor pay the same amount. The only way a tax could be more regressive would be to tax the poor people more, which is about the only stupid idea Dr. John didn't suggest.
Until I read his column I was still waffling on which way to vote, but seeing his bizarre logic convinced me to vote no. Now I'm having real doubts as to whether the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation has any adult supervision. Just what the heck is he a doctor of, anyway?
|Paid and maintained by:
Save your Dividend (SYD)
P.O. Box 670
Kenai, Alaska 99611
Bill Parish, Chair