I'm voting for Fran Ulmer for many reasons, not the least of which is fiscal. Like the almost 600,000 other Alaskans who are now receiving their permanent fund dividend checks, I enjoy this "free money." But this money is in danger of going away - to pay for state government.
Even this state's Republicans concede it's not possible to cut state government enough to make up the budget shortfall. Even with all the cuts we're experiencing now, the state's fund reserves are on pace to be emptied by 2004. Unless we come up with some kind of plan to pay for state government, the PFD earnings will have to be tapped.
My family would rather pay a state tax (one idea discussed last year was 10 percent of federal income tax paid, an amount that would come to a paltry $248 for us) than lose the $6,163 our family of four is getting with the PFDs this year.
Think about it. Look at what 10 percent of your federal income tax would come to. Look at what your family gets with the PFD.
Only the very wealthy of this state object to this trade-off (a couple making around $300,000 a year would pay about $8,831 for such a state tax).
Now listen to our leading candidates for governor. Frank Murkowski has proposed some wild scheme for "growing" ourselves out of this fiscal crisis by building roads. In the meantime, this state can't afford to maintain the roads we have now.
Fran Ulmer, in contrast, has proposed a system of sound fiscal measures, including taxes, that would kick in when and only when the state's fund reserves fall below $1 billion. Such a plan will protect our PFDs. Vote for Fran - vote for keeping our PFDs.