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Employment tax one small step toward solving state's budget gap

Posted: Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Legislators should pass Senate Bill 137, the Education (Employment) Tax. I am tired of the debate of sales vs. income tax. I am even more tired of people telling the Legislature to fix the fiscal problem but not having the courage to offer a solution.

Maybe we are looking for the big solution and we should instead start small and work our way up to solving the big problem. Passing SB 137 (which would raise about $39 million) would be a small step in the right direction. Just do it!

It makes sense. First off, it would raise needed funds for education all across Alaska. Even better, it would get almost $7 million from the 70,000 workers who live out of state and make their living in Alaska. Nonresident workers earn more than $74 million and take almost all of it out of state. Isn't time they give something back to the state that provides them their paycheck? State workers ensure they have safe working conditions, living conditions and safe airports; the least they could do is help pay for some of it.

Perhaps we could even amend SB 137 to get a little more from the out-of-state workers. We could make the education tax $150 or $200 and come up with a way to rebate half the amount back to Alaska residents. Maybe you could just request a rebate with your permanent fund dividend application. Residents and nonresidents would be able to request the rebate, but I doubt the Texans and Oklahomans would go to the trouble just to get back $100.

Either way, it is time for all of us to be part of the solution and stop making excuses. Just do it! Pass SB 137.

Bruce Senkow

Fairbanks



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