Letters to the Editor

Posted: Monday, December 24, 2001

Legislators in Fiscal Caucus show courage with their recent plan

Kudos to Rep. Drew Scalzi!

Finally we have people in the Legislature who are willing to publicly address the financial mess this state is in. At a recent meeting, Rep. Scalzi presented a plan entitled "Fiscal Goals & Objectives 2002" -- which addresses not just the current budget crunch, but also the "future"-- a new concept in Alaska politics!

Alaska cannot continue to produce an annual budget based solely upon the price of a barrel of oil. The plan outlines many options for generating revenue, such as capping the permanent fund dividend and instituting various forms of taxes.

It would be far from the truth to claim that I love paying taxes, or that I don't like getting a check from the state every year! When I moved to the Kenai Peninsula 21 years ago, I came with the idea that I would be a productive member of society, and, in the tradition of America, I would share in the cost of government. Democracy is not a free ride, and I for one am willing to pay my fair share.

One of the "remnants" of the "Save the Dividend" campaign of 1999 is a sign that states: "You can spend your Permanent Fund better than the Governor." Well, many people apparently voted to keep their annual kickback, and now I am waiting to see some of those people out on our badly deteriorated roads filling potholes or plowing snow with their dividend dollars. No sightings to date!

The governor, on the other hand, is doing his best to keep the state moving ahead in spite of the political games that go on in Juneau. State government is charged with many responsibilities -- three of the big ones being education, transportation and public safety. In each of these, society demands quality. We want the best schools and the best teachers for our kids. We want good roads, and we want them to be well maintained. We want the prompt assistance of emergency personnel when we have the misfortune to be involved in an accident or when crimes are committed against us.

All of these "wants" come with a price tag, and like it or not, the fluctuating prices and declining production of oil in this state do not allow for any kind of long-term fiscal stability.

It's time for Alaskans to realize that if we want a "future" some tough decisions have to be made now!

Rep. Scalzi and others in the Fiscal Caucus who drafted the "Fiscal Goals & Objectives 2002" plan, I applaud you for the courage you have demonstrated in presenting this political "hot potato." I think you will have more support than you know from the people in this state who appreciate quality government services.

If I wanted to live in a place with no taxes and non-existent government, I would move to a cave in Afghanistan. I understand there are some vacancies.

Hans Bilben


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