Governor, legislators should not get exorbitant retirement plans, big pay

Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2004

Dear Gov. Frank Murkowski and legislators,

I voted for you, Gov. Murkowski, and many in the Legislature. I thought you'd be a good governor for Alaska, but I find that I made a mistake. I am so saddened by your uncaring manner that I will not vote for you again.

First, you try to do away with funding for the poorest and disabled persons, try to take the permanent fund and now you are taxing everything we and the tourists do.

Since when is it the government's job to protect people from themselves and their habits? Why is it that you take a personal vendetta against the smokers? Granted, smoking is a bad habit, but so is drinking excessively, overeating and gambling to name a few.

You keep adding taxes to cigarettes which are already way overtaxed. Last I knew, it was illegal to double tax, which is exactly what we are doing when we pay sales tax on the full amount of the cigarettes which are already heavily taxed.

Doctors say that people get asthma and lung cancer from smoking and from secondhand smoke. I am the oldest of seven. I was raised by two chain-smoking stepfathers. We were all exposed to many members of our family (aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews) who smoked. Almost all my relatives who I have been around have smoked. Almost all the people I have associated with in my 54 years of life have been smokers.

My husband, who is 57, also was also raised by smokers.We have both smoked since we were teenagers.None of the people in our families neither our siblings nor our children have had lung cancer or asthma. I know of not one of our friends who have had problems with either disease. I personally know of only three people who have died from either disease, and two of them were not in our circle of family or friends. However, I do know of people who have had asthma who were not exposed to smoking. So is this actually true or are some people just prone to getting the disease? Do the doctors who dislike smoking just attribute it to smoking because there are some who smoke and get the disease? Do they just blame it on smoking for lack of a better cause?

Which of the other bad habits are you going to tax next? Maybe you'll tax food so much that we can't overeat. This state has a bad alcohol problem; maybe you'll add a bunch more taxes to it also. Get gambling into the state and tax it heavily. By all means, tax all the tourists for everything they may want to do in our state. Add more taxes to our leisure activities while you're at it.

Or: May I suggest a more reasonable solution? You keep saying that the money is running out; that we are no longer the oil rich state we once were. I say that we as taxpayers can no longer afford the extravagant pay and retirement plans we now pay our legislators and governors. We need to quit taking away the services to the poor. We don't need to tap the permanent fund or start paying income tax. What we need to do is take control of our Legislature.

Maybe it's time that we the taxpayers and voters make some price adjustments.We can take away the exorbitant retirement plans that you have given yourselves and instead allow you to go on Social Security like everyone else.

In fact, most of you can collect both Social Security and your state retirement, because you paid into Social Security before becoming politicians. And while we're at it, we can take away all the pay raises you keep giving yourselves, adjusting it down to a more reasonable amount. This would save millions (maybe even billions) of dollars and would go a long way in balancing the budget for many years to come.

Why should we put up with you politicians living like kings while continuing to cut services to the poor, tapping into our permanent fund and heavily taxing the people you supposedly represent? There's something wrong with this picture!

I say it's time that "We the People" take a stand and take control of our state and our country! Make cuts where it counts and where it can make a big difference!

Vicki Thompson


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