Alaska Governor seeks income tax for the first time in 35 years
By Staff Writer
Alaska Governor Bill Walker has called for levying of income tax in the State. As part of his New Sustainable Alaska Plan, he suggested for levying an income tax to bridge the budget deficit for the State. Alaska State is mostly dependent on oil revenues.
Alaska is the one of the few states without sales tax or personal income tax. The steep fall in oil price is denting state's revenue basket. Alaska State's revenues can meet only 40 percent of total expenditure.
Alaska State has $3.5 billion deficit budget for the State. The lower oil prices are impacting the state's revenues for the past one year. If income tax is levied, then it'll be after a gap of 35 years.
With crude oil price hovering at $37 a barrel, seven-year low, Alaska state revenues slipped into pressure. According to a report by USA Today,
Walker suggested for a small income tax and reduction in state's Permanent Fund dividends would benefit residents. Walker said: "This is the time when Alaskans need to pull together. There is no perfect budget plan other than the plan that gets done."
"We can't continue with business as usual and live solely off of our natural resource revenues. Never before has the state faced a deficit so large that we're draining more than $9 million from savings every day," said Walker.
Citing the example of the recession in 1980s that Alaska witnessed when oil price steeply fell, Walker said the recession led to the foreclosure of numerous homes in the state, as reported by CNN Money.
Walker strongly believes that timely action would prevent another recession for the State.
Alaska is a Republican-controlled state and majority members are supporting Walker's measures to support the State economy.
However, Walker wants the government's role to be limited before taxing residents. The list of state without income tax includes Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
According to a report by CNBC, Walker proposed using the State's Permanent Fund dividends to generate a stream of cash to help finance the state government. Unlike other states in the US, Alaska has limited industrial activity to bridge the revenue gap.
The tax burden of Alaska is the lowest in the country. Alaska has been ranked at the second position on the basis of positive business climate by US Chamber of Commerce.
"We have tools to solve our budget challenge and create a bright future for Alaska. We just need the wisdom and the will to act", he said.