There is always the good news and the bad news. The good news is that skyrocketing fuel prices are driving up the price per barrel of oil. The bad news is that Alaskans are paying more at the pump, more to heat their homes, more to pay their utility bills. The price of goods and services keeps going up because of fuel costs. That carton of milk costs more because the gas to run the delivery truck costs more.
One of the major issues that this legislative session will consider is how to use our surplus. Because of our oil resource, increased taxes on the oil, and prudent investments, this is what would be called a bumper crop if we were in farm country. Do we save and how much? Do we spend and how much? Do we forward-fund education spending? Should capital investment and projects be a priority? How much should we share with municipalities that have their own share of burdens and responsibilities?
Shouldn't one of our goals as we deal with this surplus be to share this windfall with the people of this state? I would suggest that the Legislature consider a one-time only energy rebate. One way might be for a person to simply fill out a form similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund (it could perhaps even be an extra line on next year's permanent fund form) verifying that the person spent the prior year as an Alaska resident. Another way would be that of Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, who has introduced a bill that would make Alaska families eligible for a $750 break in their winter heating bills.
The details can be worked out. But the fairness of this sharing of the bounty of a resource that belongs to all Alaskans seems clear.
Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux