Practicing tax restraint is still a smart idea

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, June 27, 2004

Some politicians "cover" theft of permanent fund earnings by proposing fund dedications to "good" agencies; so may I please note that Alaska's constitutional delegates for two reasons prohibited dedicated funds?

First, delegates saw states with dedicated funds dedicating so much of state income that the dead past tied present legislators' fiscal hands. Delegates also knew that if one agency got funds dedicated to it, all other agencies would want dedicated funds too. Delegates wisely said each agency must fight anew for funds each year.

Second, delegates knew people like dedicated funds, because then people see where their money goes. Delegates understood that people tax themselves higher with dedicated taxes than with a general fund legislators appropriate. So to keep taxes lower, delegates barred dedicated funds.

Aren't these still good ideas? Is the willful ignorance to today's politicians due to greed - the desire to get the principal or earnings of $20 billion? If politicians - instead of greed - just want to tax unearned money instead of earned income or sales, couldn't they just raise ELF taxes on unearned windfall oil profits?

Meanwhile, forget percent of market value. Was the "just management tool" argument a lie, using permanent fund earnings for government? Don't politicians remember Alaskans' 1999 83 percent train-wreck no-vote? Don't they care that any cut to permanent fund dividends hurts low-income Alaskans most? Finally, doesn't Alaska already have a constitutional spending limit - called income?

Joe Sonneman

Juneau



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