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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Time for responsible budgeting

  • Author: Orin Seybert
    | Opinion
  • Updated: April 16
  • Published April 16

Rep. Matt Claman represents West Anchorage, House District 21. He recently did a poll of all us in the district, with about 200 respondents.

The results came in, with more than 74% of respondents giving the governor’s 2022 budget — which includes the $5,000 Permanent Fund dividend — a failing grade of F or D.

Seventy-three percent supported using Permanent Fund earnings to help pay for essential services, and 79% did not favor using the 1982 statutory calculation to determine the dividend amount. Seventy-seven percent chose increasing the size of the dividend as their least choice for allocating increased revenue.  

The dividend was never envisioned by its proponents as an entitlement, but as a way to share with citizens the revenue windfall created by oil. Now that revenue is largely gone, so our personal share has to decrease also. There has been talk about putting the dividend in the Alaska Constitution, which is totally uncalled for, as well as unfair to our future generations and legislators.

Folks, it is time to revisit the graduated personal income tax, with large exemptions for the low wage earners, also exempting the dividend. So the great majority of the revenue would come from our higher-income people, while also getting money from all the nonresidents who benefit  from our resources and take our money back home to the Lower 48.

Our American system has served us well for the past 250 years. It calls on us all to share in the cost of supplying the necessary services and benefits we all need and want. As Jay Hammond used to say, “The American system of democratic government is the very worst one in the world, except for all the rest.”

— Orin Seybert


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