Income tax? Let Alaskans vote
As our friends on the left call for a statewide, progressive income tax and as pundits and letters-to-the-editor writers hammer home the idea to help close the state’s multibillion-dollar fiscal gap, there are, thankfully, holdouts.
While the Democrat-led House approved an income tax, the Senate is, well, to put it mildly, recalcitrant. It wants to cut government’s size even more and restructure the Permanent Fund.
Gov. Bill Walker is offering to sit down with leaders from each chamber to discuss how to resolve the differences, but the sides are far apart and he already supports a “broad-based tax.”
Despite claims that Alaskans are ready for an income tax, a recent Dittman Research poll for the Alaska Chamber of Commerce indicates they are not. It shows 58 percent of the survey’s respondents oppose an income tax.
Democrats, never deterred by what ordinary Alaskans want, say they are unwilling to concede anything when it comes to their deficit-reduction plan, which includes a restructured Permanent Fund, an income tax and higher oil taxes, the Alaska Dispatch News reports.
From where we sit, this debate is at a critical juncture for Alaskans. If an income tax is adopted it will never go away; it will only grow. If an income tax is adopted, state spending will be completely out of the hands of citizens because bureaucrats will have automatic access to money. This may be the very last chance Alaskans have to control the size of their government.
Truly controlling government spending requires “starving the beast,” a political strategy aptly named during the administration of Ronald Reagan. It cuts revenue to reduce the amount government has to spend.
In our view, the Senate is taking the right position in this debate, but the House and the political left, bent on protecting union government jobs, will never agree. What to do?
We have heard from the governor. We have heard from politicians. We have heard from pollsters. We have heard from Alaska’s richest and most powerful businesses and leaders. Why not let ordinary Alaskans decide?
Why not a straight up-or-down vote on an income tax? Make it an advisory vote if that is the only way it can be done, but let us vote. When the final ballot is cast, there will be no misunderstanding about how Alaskans feel.
None at all.