Senior Voice -

By Marge Stoneking
AARP Alaska 

AARP Alaska members support state revenue measures not cuts

 

September 1, 2021 | View PDF



Our state is facing budget challenges and will need to make important decisions about how we can best address these challenges to continue providing health and financial security as well as economic opportunities to Alaskans of all ages.

For many years, Alaska used its oil revenues to balance the state budget and fund state services and programs. At the same time, the state used Permanent Fund earnings to issue dividend checks to all Alaska residents. As oil revenues declined, the state reduced spending on services and programs and used the state savings account to help balance its budget. Now, our savings account is nearly depleted, and the state is using Permanent Fund earnings to help pay for services and issue dividend checks to residents. Without enough oil revenue or state savings to draw from, Alaska is considering additional cuts and new ways to raise revenue to help balance the state budget, maintain state programs and services, and continue issuing Permanent Fund Dividend checks.

When AARP surveyed members on state fiscal solutions this year, there was agreement -regardless of geography or party affiliation - in opposition to continued state cuts and in support of revenue solutions.

Our research shows that older Alaskans are keenly aware of the state fiscal challenges and are willing to do their part to ensure a sustainable Alaska for future generations. The message to legislators from the strongest voting group in Alaska - older Alaskans – is simple: support revenue solutions over cuts to state services or cuts to the PFD.

Key findings in this survey of AARP Alaska members are:

Cuts to state spending on funding for local governments, public safety, education, transportation, health services for children and low-income families, and home care services for seniors are opposed by more than 70% of AARP members. A majority “strongly oppose” these cuts.

Increasing taxes on oil and gas companies is the preferred way to balance the state budget by a wide margin; the majority of AARP members (51%) “strongly support” this tax increase.

A state graduated income tax is supported by a wide margin overall, with nearly three out of five in support.

Two-thirds of AARP members initially support a state sales tax but only 43% support a sales tax after learning about the burden on some local communities who already have local sales taxes.

Capping PFD checks to help balance the state budget and maintain state services is also supported.

Visit our website at http://www.aarp.org/ak to read the “AARP Alaska Members Support Statewide Broad-based Revenue Measures” article which explains the survey results, the methodology, and topline findings.

As older Alaskan voters, our voices are important to legislators – and particularly impactful when we join them together under the banner of AARP.

Alaska’s senior population represents over a third of registered voters in the state, but we have an outsized impact in elections – particularly in lower turnout elections such as primaries.

Older Alaskans consistently participate in voting at higher rates than any other age group, and at 10 percentage points or more than general voter turnout rates.

We know that today’s older Alaskans want to remain in Alaska as they age, and a sustainable state budget is important to AARP members. A sustainable Alaska means resolving our ongoing structural budget challenges.

During the 30-day special session, legislators will consider constitutional amendments regarding the PFD, the Permanent Fund Earnings Account, and new revenues.

During this same time period, AARP Alaska is partnering with Alaska Municipal League in hosting a five-part Legislative Conversation Series on State Revenue Solutions and you’re invited to participate.

AARP and Alaska Municipal League are pulling together toward a future, where Alaskans of all generations can stay in Alaska. Together we know that the State’s budget shortfall must be addressed. New revenues are needed to continue to provide the state infrastructure and services that Alaskans need to allow them to remain in their communities as they age.

Join Alaska Municipal League and AARP in this five-part conversation series with legislators to explore revenue options for a sustainable Alaska for all. The series will run on Thursdays at noon starting August 26 and repeating September 2, 9, 16, 23 on Zoom platform. To register to participate or learn more, visit https://states.aarp.org/alaska/aarp-aml-conversation-series.

To get involved as a volunteer with AARP legislative advocacy, please contact mstoneking@aarp.org.

Marge Stoneking is the Advocacy Director for AARP Alaska.

 
 

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