Oil Tax Credits a Bad Business Deal for the People of Alaska
With only 5 days left in the session, my colleagues and I in the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition continue to push on our commitment for quality education, accessible health care, safe communities and a sustainable and comprehensive fiscal plan. Here’s an update on some fast-moving bills in the final days.
Oil Tax Credits: A Bad Business Deal for the People of Alaska
Listening to testimony on Oil & Gas Tax Credits in House Finance
In January, [gov.alaska.gov] Governor Walker introduced HB 247, a bill to reduce state subsidies to big oil corporations. In House Finance Committee last week, I introduced amendments to stop some of these unsustainable subsidies with support from moderate Republican majority members. The original Governor’s bill would have a total fiscal impact (savings plus revenue) of over $500 million in the first year alone, but the bill currently would only have a $20 million impact in the first year.
Oil industry subsidies cost every Alaskan roughly $1,000. There is no way I can support taking money out of Alaskans pockets through an income tax or PFD restructuring simply to give to oil companies that are still reaping profits. Republican leadership has eliminated senior benefits, all early education and is trying to reduce support to cities to keep property taxes low. It’s time the Legislature got its priorities in order.
University Updates: Good and Bad
Working through bills on the floor with Minority Leader Chris Tuck
First of all, I want to say thank you. Last week I wrote to you about a package of misguided revenue options introduced by Republicans in the Senate Finance Committee. They wanted to eliminate the Alaska Performance Scholarship. With vocal support from the public and university community, the attack on the Alaska Performance Scholarship has been stopped and it looks like the scholarship will be safe.
The final budget for the University of Alaska is still to be determined. However, we know there will be a drastic cut no matter the outcome. Recently, UA President Jim Johnsen announced that anywhere from 200 to 500 jobs may be lost as a result of the budget negotiations in Juneau. Cuts would include professors, administration and support staff—our neighbors, families and friends. The largest tuition increase in the 100-year history of the University is also being proposed as an option to fill the budget loss.
SB 174 recently passed the Senate and was just passed from the House Education Committee. Now in the House Judiciary Committee, the bill would prevent the University Board of Regents from banning guns in classrooms, gyms and dormitories.
In the Alaska State Constitution, the Board of Regents makes its own policies for the staff, students and visitors to campus to ensure there is a free exchange of ideas and a safe environment in which to learn. The Board of Regents sent a resolution to the Legislature voicing opposition to the measure. I’m a proud UAF graduate and a responsible gun owner who believes firmly in the 2nd Amendment. On this issue, I stand with the Board of Regents and currently oppose this bill.
Buy a New Legislative Office Building?!
Speaking on the floor about fiscal responsibility
The Senate Finance Committee unveiled a budget bill to buy a new Legislative Office Building in downtown Anchorage for $32.5 million. According to the Municipality, the current appraised value of the building is less than $20 million. Governor Bill Walker has offered the Legislature space in the state-owned Atwood Building only a few blocks away. Recently, a judge invalidated the lease and said it was an illegal transaction between legislative leadership and the owner of the building.
As lawmakers warn of devastating cuts to the budget that will cause us to plunge in to recession, this move makes no sense. As Alaskans know, when you don’t have the money, you lease instead of buy. While many families are facing foreclosure, the Republican leadership is buying itself a new home in a prime location in Downtown Anchorage. I will not support this bad deal.
Working Hard for Fairbanks Families,
Representative Scott Kawasaki
Alaska State Representative
City of Fairbanks
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