JUNEAU – Wednesday, members of the Senate Democrats introduced two pieces of legislation to increase revenue for the state of Alaska. During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on August 24, 2021, it was noted by the non-partisan Legislative Finance Division that Alaska faces a $285 million budget shortfall for Fiscal Year 2023, even after overdrawing from the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account.
Sponsored by Senator Tom Begich (D-Anchorage), Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage), and Senator Donny Olson (D-Golovin), Senate Bill 3002 will increase the motor fuel tax from $0.08 per gallon – the lowest in the nation – to $0.16 per gallon, which would then rank Alaska 43rd in the nation for its fuel tax. The bill would also decrease the oil and gas per barrel tax credit from $8 to $5, and close a loophole in Alaska’s corporate tax law by requiring highly profitable non-public companies to pay the current publicly traded corporation income tax rate of 9.4 percent. Combined, these revenue measures would begin generating approximately $250 million next per fiscal year for the state of Alaska, and would continue to grow at a steady rate.
Senator Begich and Senator Gray-Jackson also introduced Senate Bill 3003 accompanied by Senate Joint Resolution 302. The proposal prioritizes constitutionally obligated critical government services, including Power Cost Equalization; resolves the spending tensions between dividends and government spending, and provides for a minimum $1,200 sustainable dividend that will grow over time.
“This is not the be-all, end-all, must-have policy to set Alaska on a course of fiscal solvency. It’s a starting point to get the conversation back on track to enact new revenues and begin to balance our state budget,” said Senate Democratic Leader Tom Begich (D-Anchorage). “We cannot continue on hopes and prayers that Alaska’s budget gap will fix itself. These revenue ideas have been discussed before, were presented by the Administration’s Commissioner of Revenue to the bi-partisan Fiscal Plan Working Group, and were seen by the Working Group as viable revenue measures that could perhaps garner a consensus. The constitutional amendment and accompanying legislation seeks to get the conversation moving on these critical issues. The time to talk about solutions has passed–now we must act.”