Senator says poll shows Alaskans support an income tax
The Alaska House of Representatives is preparing to vote on an income tax, but the Senate majority says it won’t stand.
Now, one senator says a new poll shows Alaskans actually prefer a tax.
Senate minority member Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) presented the poll results at a press conference Friday. He called it one of the most comprehensive polls done on the issue in the state’s history.
The survey was commissioned by a group called the Economic Security Project, of which Wielechowski is a founding signatory. The Anchorage senator said he does not have financial ties or directive authority over the organization, which advocates for a basic income that includes things like Permanent Fund dividends.
The poll was conducted by Harstad Strategic Research, a consulting firm that boasts its hand in helping elect former President Barack Obama. Of the 1,000 Alaskans polled statewide, 64 percent said they would pay an income tax if it meant keeping their Permanent Fund dividend check, according to the company’s findings.
“It’s simply informing the public, informing the people of Alaska, informing the people in the building, here’s a little bit of information that might be helpful for you, educate you as you move forward,” Wielechowski said of Friday’s presentation. “We’re legislators who want to know what constituents are thinking, and they want to know what people across the state are thinking.”
When asked whether he would support a referendum to repeal legislation passed by the Senate that would reduce PFD checks next year, Senate Bill 26, Wielechowski replied, “I don’t know. I may or may not. Let’s see what it looks like in the end. It’s not a question that I can even contemplate at this point.”
The Senate Majority has continually stated its opposition to an income tax. Members say it doesn’t make sense for the state to pay out dividend checks while taxing Alaskans at the same time.
“We’ve said it before and we’ll continue to say it. The only thing standing between Alaskans and the income tax right now is the Senate,” said Senate President Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks), at a press conference Thursday. “And we intend to stay resolute on that.”
The House is scheduled to vote on its income tax proposal, House Bill 115, on Saturday.
Sunday is the last day of the 90-day legislative session, but lawmakers will continue working next week.
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