State leaders discuss new revenue options for Alaska
How will Alaska pay for its future? All weekend leaders from across the state got together to try to answer that very question.
The governor put out a list of 50 ideas. They ranged from a Powerball lottery and casinos to fishing and fuel taxes. But the options with the most traction were the ones that will bring in the most new revenue for the state:
- Cap the yearly Permanent Fund Dividend payout
- Add a state income tax
- Add a state sales tax
Like many, rumors of oil brought Juan Garcia to Alaska. Now his life is set to a different tune than most.
For 10 years, Garcia’s bright pink ice cream truck has kept him busy. Each of those years he also received a PFD, which helped pay the bills.
Under idea No. 1, the PFD payout would be capped at $1,200. That’s about $600 less than Garcia received last year.
Idea No. 2 would create a state income tax. Right now, Alaskans don’t pay anything but soon could be required to pay 10, 20 or even 30 percent of everything they make to the state. In Garcia’s case, that’s as much as $6,000 for just his summer work.
The third idea would raise state revenue through a state sales tax, which would make all off Garcia’s supplies a little pricier.
It’s too early to say which options lawmakers will decide on, or if it’ll be a combination of several.
“I think it would be good to have a state sales tax especially because we’ve seen an increase of people coming into Alaska during the summertime,” said Anchorage resident Keoni Ivanoff.
Some Alaskans urged leaders to not mess with the PFD.
“We rely on it every year as income and where we live up north prices are high — prices of food, gas — and we rely on the PFD to help offset some of those costs,” said Kotzebue resident Christy Mulluk.
Others, like Andrew Dwyer, say the PFD should be the first thing to go.
“I’d probably be more inclined to an income tax, because then we tax out-of-state people that come and work for the summer and take their money with them,” Dwyer said.
All the options are just ideas right now. A lot of discussion still needs to happen before choosing and implementing any of them.
Some state lawmakers estimate that a combination of state sales and income tax could generate as much as $1 billion a year in new revenue.
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