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EDITOR, Daily News:
We should all be very grateful to Rep. Dan Ortiz for his efforts to compel a straight answer from the governor during last Monday’s public meeting. Rep. Ortiz pointed out that the governor was being “disingenuous” in claiming his administration’s budget had no taxes, when it essentially necessitated local tax increases due to cost shifting from the state to local governments.
Gov. Dunleavy’s reply: “No we’re not proposing taxes at the state level, but will the local municipalities have to ponder additional taxes? Yes they will.”
And with that, the governor gave the game away; Dunleavy is all for taxation, provided it is the most geographically unequal and socially unfair taxation imaginable. While attention has naturally focused on the existential threat that the combination of AMHS elimination, Medicaid cuts, public education cuts, and state university cuts would pose to our town, this is the long-term danger.
Cynically kicking costs down to local government will force already highly taxed peripheral communities, like Ketchikan, to increase regressive local taxes and fees that significantly raise the cost the living. Ketchikan therefore will face the no-win situation of either increasing its cost of living in order to fund essential services or not funding those services and watching its quality of life decline. Either way, our town and surrounding communities will become a less attractive place to live and invest, causing it to fall further behind the economic concentration currently taking place in the Railbelt.
The only way out of this no-win situation is with a progressive income tax, which would tax all Alaskans equally based on their personal income, as opposed to the communities in which they live.