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EDITOR, Daily News:
My name is Ghert Abbott, I am the Democratic candidate for state House in District 36: Ketchikan, Saxman, Metlakatla, Wrangell and Hydaburg. The Democratic primary is Tuesday, Aug. 21.
I stand for a full Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, a full progressive income tax, an increase in oil tax revenue, and an end to all the austerity measures that are strangling our state’s future.
For the last four years the political establishment has presented Alaskans with a false choice: consent to a tax on the PFD or watch as essential public services are utterly decimated. The results of this emaciated consensus are now plain to see: The creation of a regressive system of state taxation; cuts to education, health care, the Pioneer Homes, policing, infrastructure, and the Alaska Marine Highway System; and the endangerment of our permanent fund’s long term value through inadequate inflation proofing. The costs of resolving the fiscal crisis are thus being placed entirely on the backs of working and middle class Alaskans, while wealthy Alaskans pay practically nothing.
It doesn’t have to be this way; there is an alternative. All we have to do is reestablish the 1975 progressive income tax and end the tax deduction currently being given to the oil companies for each barrel of oil produced. These two measures, taken together, would supply enough revenue to largely fill in our state’s budget deficit. There would be no need to tax Alaskans’ PFDs or draw money from the Permanent Fund’s Earnings Reserve. The permanent fund would be cleanly separated from the state’s revenue system and its value would continue to increase over time, as would Alaskans’ future PFDs. Essential public services — education, healthcare, pioneer homes, law enforcement, infrastructure, and the Alaska Marine Highway — would all be fully protected and their costs fairly distributed.
Alaska’s politicians are fond of stating that everyone in the state legislature supports using the Permanent Fund to resolve the fiscal crisis. On Aug. 21 you will have your first opportunity to vote for someone who disagrees.