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Survey Results from Representative Alan Austerman


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Click image for large 6.5'' x 9'' picture, 215.71k Session:
State Capitol, Room 434
Juneau, AK 99801-1182
Phone: (907) 465-2487
Fax: (907) 465-4956
Send E-Mail

Interim:
112 Mill Bay Road
Kodiak, AK 99615
Phone: (907) 486-8872
Fax: (907) 486-5264 (at LIO)

Representative Alan Austerman's
On-Line 2000 Legislative Survey Results

Dear Neighbor,

Thank you for participating in the year 2000 Constituent Questionnaire.

The State of Alaska is still facing a $400 million shortfall of revenue for the next fiscal year. There have been a few good ideas brought forward, but no solution has been agreed upon. I appreciate you taking the time to help me address our state's issues. I hope that as you went through the questionnaire, you were able to see how difficult many of these decisions are. We may say we want to solve our budget dilemma, but how new revenues are generated is extremely tough to decide.

Of the 4634 questionnaires sent out, to date, 320 were completed and returned. These numbers have been translated to percentages. In addition to the mailed responses, 34 surveys from Kodiak residents were responded to via my legislative web page, bringing the total to 354, or 7.6% return, which is actually quite high for this type of survey. The questionnaire results follow.

Thank you for your participation.

Best regards, Alan

  Rep. Austermnan's signature

Results

Would you approve of the use of excess interest earnings of the permanent fund, if capped at 20%?

In pursuing a long-term budget plan I co-sponsored HB 411, which was heard in two house committees, and supported by a minority of the majority caucus and most members of the minority caucus. Unfortunately this bill got stuck in committee, partly due to this being an election year and the tax implications being a subject that most legislators prefer not to address at this time. You told me you support this by voting:

Yes  172 54%
No  97 30%
No Answer   16%

Do you favor an income tax (approximately 15% of federal liability)?

Raising approximately $250 million from broad-based taxes was an integral part of the plan put forth in HB 411. It remains the missing leg of a balanced budget plan. During the interim there will be an effort by the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee to continue the conversation with the public on this important point. Over the years it has become clear to me that cutting the budget alone will not result in a balanced plan. Increasing demands in the budget are driven by increases in various populations of Alaska. Even though this question focused on an income tax, the legislature has examined many other types of taxes that could contribute to the overall solution to the problem. The survey results indicate that an income tax is not a popular option:

Yes  113 35%
No  166 52%
No Answer   13%

Do you agree or disagree with increasing oil industry taxes by $80-100 million?

It's not clear if I got a green light from Kodiak residents on whether or not we should focus on the state's oil and gas business tax. This option has been considered as one of the mix of possibilities. I would not consider industry to be a single source of the necessary new revenues to fund our state taxes. Many survey respondents did not vote on this question.

Yes  152 39%
No  110 28%
No Answer  129 33%

Would you agree with teh Mackie Plan if the Legislature doesn't come up with a long-term plan?

Kodiak seems to be evenly divided on this one, which is about what I expected. It was both a bold move and a calculated risk to introduce this legislation. I believe the result was not what Senator Mackie expected. I believe he most likely expected that discussion would ensue about a realistic plan regarding the state's finances. Unfortunately, too many people became preoccupied with the coffee-table conversation of how they would spend their $25,000. This bill has died primarily because this and past legislatures have never touched the fund, in fact they have added almost $7 billion beyond the inflation-proofing requirements.

Yes  142 44%
No  129 40%
No Answer   10%

Do you have another plan?

I am impressed with how many people gave my plea for input serious consideration. I can tell from your thoughtful consideration that you understand how complex a political issue funding the state's needs can be. I have and will take your ideas under advisement as I continue to be concerned with this development.

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