My Turn: Protecting our legacy and future

People in all parts of Alaska are gathering 40,000 petition signatures, needed by mid-July, so Alaskans can vote to reject or approve the recent oil tax giveaway. While it makes no sense to give away billions of state dollars for nothing in return, there is a larger issue — another attack on the Permanent Fund.

The Governor recently said he might dip into the Constitutional Budget Reserve, and even the Alaska Permanent Fund’s earnings reserve, to meet budget shortfalls next year. That means we are about to give away millions, or billions, of dollars from our state savings account to some of the most profitable corporations in the world.

If the Constitutional Budget Reserve and Permanent Fund earnings can be taken, the next logical step is an income tax on Alaskans or worse, an attempt to break into the main part of the Permanent Fund that was created by legislators from both political parties. We cannot allow our future to be dismantled by a badly designed tax cut, and that is why I became one of three main sponsors to start the petition to repeal this poorly thought out legislation.

Since statehood, and adoption of out state Constitution, we have maintained a degree of control over our resources. Thanks to Jay Hammond and other leaders, we have saved $46 billion in the Permanent Fund and returned Permanent Fund Dividend checks every year to Alaska residents.

The Permanent Fund was created to make sure Alaskans directly benefit from our commonly owned resources and to prepare for financial stability and new sources of energy when our oil is gone. SB 21, the Governor’s oil tax giveaway, could leave Alaska broke even before the oil is pumped dry.

Without our resource wealth, we will be hard pressed to have good schools, public safety and roads that create job opportunities for the next generation. Our resource wealth allows us to have self-determination. Control of our own resources is what makes us different from a colony.

Before statehood, outside interests, from Russian fur trappers to Washington fishermen, controlled out resources and took them from our state. Generations of Alaskans fought for statehood so that we would benefit from resource development more than outsiders. We must protect this priceless future for our children and grandchildren.

Jay Hammond said there would be attacks on our Permanent Fund and it would be up to Alaskans to protect it. Now is the time to act. Please join me and sign the petition so Alaskans can vote to decide whether the oil tax giveaway should be allowed.

For more information visit Facebook “VoteYesRepealTheGiveaway” and the website repealtheoilgiveaway.org. The future of our children and future generations is as stake.

Former First Lady Bella Hammond lives on the Hammond homestead in Port Alsworth.

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