Opinions

Thanks to the Assembly for protecting Anchorage’s alcohol tax dollars

Anchorage Assembly

Thanks to the members of the Anchorage Assembly for working hard to protect the use of our alcohol tax dollars. Use of this transformative revenue source deserves integrity, transparency and accountability. Thanks to the Assembly, the community has solidified our priorities for this critical new funding source for another year.

The voter-approved Anchorage alcohol tax specifically dedicated funding to three main areas with a focus on prevention while addressing immediate needs. Through the public process, the community spoke up about their priorities, and Assembly members listened. They worked hard to align with the work begun last year, and to restore critical elements to the budget without shortchanging needed investments in crisis response and homelessness. On Nov. 23, the Assembly voted to:

• Reverse cuts and restore early education funding to $2 million

• Reverse cuts and restore primary prevention grants funding to $2 million

• Dedicate $250,000 to domestic violence and interpersonal violence response organizations

• Keep the Mobile Crisis Team in its current form, ensuring effective response to mental health crises

• Secure new funding for crisis intervention training in Girdwood

• Keep core Anchorage Health Department functions in the operating budget, not with alcohol tax dollars

Mayor Dave Bronson vetoed nearly all of the Assembly amendments. We urge the Assembly to maintain its support for our community priorities, and vote to unanimously override Mayor Bronson’s vetoes as soon as possible.

The alcohol tax is a precious resource in that it was passed specifically to address some causes of generational trauma. By continuing the funding streams for prevention and support services that we committed to in its first year, we sustain our innovative and important community investments in what works to reduce and prevent the issues that harm our community most: violence and abuse, mental health crises, substance misuse and homelessness. We need to maintain these targeted investments to see real results. Thank you to the Assembly for staying the course and giving this new funding a real chance to make a difference.

The work of an Assembly member is arduous and too often thankless. We see their dedication and appreciate it. Together, we are building a brighter future.

Tiffany Hall serves as executive director for Recover Alaska, a nonprofit that works with partners around the state to reduce excessive alcohol use and harm.

Celeste Hodge Growden is president and CEO of the Alaska Black Caucus, a nonpartisan organization whose focus is to assert the constitutional rights of African Americans.

Trevor Storrs is president and CEO of the Alaska Children’s Trust, or ACT, the leading statewide agency addressing the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

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