Thank you for this opportunity to speak to the voters of Assembly District 9, the southern Kenai Peninsula outside of the city of Homer. I have had the privilege of representing these wonderful folks for the past three years, and look forward to continuing in that capacity. I particularly enjoy visiting with constituents, and welcome their calls and e-mails.
The key issue that I believe the borough will be dealing with in the coming few years will be the state financial crisis and how that is dealt with. I think it critical that assembly members be actively involved through the Legislature as the issue of sales tax versus income tax is debated.
There have been two studies of the impacts of these two taxes, one by the University of Alaska, the other by the Alaska Department of Revenue. Combining those results, it indicated that if the state needs $300 million in revenue, sales tax would capture $21million to $30 million from nonresidents. Income tax would capture $66 million to $75 million from nonresidents. State income tax is deductible from federal income tax. Sales tax is not.
Any tax is regressive and will cost jobs. The budget cuts of the last session are estimated to have cost 4,650 jobs. The above-mentioned sales tax would cost 2,325 jobs; the dividend proposal, 2,310, and the income tax, 1,875 jobs.
Sales taxes would heavily impact the Kenai Peninsula Borough and are, in my view, not in the borough's best interest. It is going to be a difficult decision, yet I lean toward the income tax as being the least regressive. I would like to hear from my constituents either by phone, 235-6652, or e-mail, email@example.com, on this issue.
Another issue that I suspect will take a great deal of time in the coming months is that of the state coal-bed-methane gas leases on the southern peninsula. My constituents are rightly concerned. House Bill 69 has extended more power to a nonelected official (the commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources) than at any time in Alaska's history. It has stripped the borough of input to the process.
Rep. Vic Kohring in a letter to the Anchorage Daily News, Sept. 7, took pride in removing a layer of government from the permitting process (namely the borough), and claims there are powerful safeguards in the law. In my discussions with Mr. Hanson of the Oil and Gas Division, Mr. Hanson indicated the drilling company would have to obtain an agreement from the private property owner, but, if that was not successful, the company could post a bond and do their work.
Implied, is that the property owner has to pay a lawyer and go to court to protect his rights. It is surprising to me that two peninsula legislators supported this bill that removed the local voice of a community that feels so strongly about protecting private property rights.
The issue of roads standards is still on-going. I am currently working with Mayor Bagley in an effort to satisfy concerns through regulations.
I urge all of you to please vote on Oct. 7. We are so lucky to live in a country where we can vote our conscience.
This is a milestone election for school board, because of the vote to go to a nine-member school board, based on assembly districts. This is your opportunity to vote for members of your community to represent you with school issues.
Also on the ballot is the Trails Powers proposition. I urge voters to review this carefully. It is in response to the many requests I have received to see this put back before the voters that I co-sponsored this effort. Trails are a valued part of the Kenai Peninsula homestead history and today even more valued for recreational use.
District 9 is a large and complex district comprised of diverse communities of often differing opinions. It is a challenge to represent all, and yet, it has been my pleasure to do so. I enjoy visiting each, such as Anchor Point, the East Road communities, Seldovia, Port Graham and Nanwalek. I do not get to them as often as I would like, yet I endeavor to maintain contact with each. I ask your support and your vote on Oct. 7.
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