Tea Cup Reads: the State budget is in play edition

Alaska politics has gotten in to full swing this week, and most of what I have for you focuses on the big-ticket item: the State budget.

During a legislative majority that lasted more than 20 years, Alaska’s Republican leaders whistled past the graveyard and punted on the budget until it couldn’t be ignored. So, any time you hear people complaining about the sacrifices needed to keep the lights on now, remind them that we could have dealt with it when times were good, but our State Republican lawmakers apparently didn’t find it to be a good use of their time.

First up, State Rep. Justin Parish has published a new edition of his newsletter this week, the Capitol Update. The Alaska House has gotten started on dealing with our fiscal gap, and Rep. Parish states:

As a way to help solve Alaska’s fiscal problem, fellow House Majority Coalition members and Resources committee co-chairs Rep. Geran Tarr and Rep. Andy Josephson have introduced legislation to increase taxes on the oil industry and cut subsidies. Specifically, one part of the legislation includes raising the minimum oil company tax rate from 4% to 5%.  The bill also provides that companies would no longer be able to use credits to lower their taxes below that rate.

In fact, the Alaska House Coalition has developed the bones of their proposed fiscal framework. While I’m not eager to pay an income tax, I’m ready to step up if I feel that businesses (particularly out-of-state oil/gas mega-companies) are doing more of their part as well.

The State Revenue Restructuring Act would also tax income for both residents and non-residents at 15 percent of federal income tax due or $25, whichever is greater. … Additionally, capital gains will be taxed at 10 percent to bring tax rates on different forms of income into alignment.  Residents can choose to apply some or all of their PFD to their income tax due, receiving any overpayment as a refund.  The income tax would raise an estimated $655 million annually once fully implemented.

In addition, there will have to be a draw on the Permanent Fund. I’ve always thought of the Permanent Fund Dividend as being similar to a corporate dividend-producing stock, and it makes sense to reduce dividends when other sources of revenue are low. From the same piece:

HB 115 will create an annual draw from the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account (ERA) of 4.75 percent of the market value of the entire fund, known as a POMV draw.  One third of this draw will go directly to the dividend fund to pay Alaskans’ Permanent Fund Dividends (PFDs).  The remaining two thirds would go to the state’s general fund to support state operations.  Under this calculation dividends are expected to start around $1,100 and grow sustainably over time. This POMV draw will generate approximately $1.5 billion to $2 billion annually for the general fund.

Read the whole thing, though, and see what you think. Whatever happens in the State Legislature budget is going to reverberate through State services and politics for years: make sure you stay on top of it and communicate with Rep. Parish, Rep. Kito, and Sen. Egan when you have feedback. They need to know if you think they are on track, as well as any ideas you have for improvement.

Yep, Trump is still Ugh.
But he’s also ridiculous, so there’s that.

Trump reminds one reporter of Radovan Karadzic:

Karadžić’s performance was Trumpian in its audacious make-believe, and it conveyed a lesson that’s useful to us today. Tyrants don’t care if you believe them, they just want you to succumb to doubt. “His ideas were so grotesque,” I later wrote of Karadžić, “his version of reality so twisted, that I was tempted to conclude he was on drugs, or that I was. … He didn’t need to make outsiders believe his version of events; he just needed to make them doubt the truth and sit on their hands.”  [Emphasis mine – Mary]

And the apparent power behind the throne, Steve Bannon, cites a super-creepy fascist:

Changing the system, Evola argued, was “not a question of contesting and polemicizing, but of blowing everything up.”

Evola’s ideal order, Professor Drake wrote, was based on “hierarchy, caste, monarchy, race, myth, religion and ritual.”

Well, that sounds pleasant.

If you read Alaskan blogger One Hot Mess (content note: language), you have already laughed over her Frederick Douglass tweets from the great beyond, prompted by President Trump not seeming to know that Frederick Douglass died over 100 years ago. Even if she’s not usually your cup of tea, this was a good one.

There are things that are (thank goodness) not politics, too
And here are some non-political links. I provide these every week to honor all of us as complete human beings who deserve the freedom to enjoy our diverse lives.

SexHealthMoneyDeath: The Four Horsemen of the Middle Aged Apocalypse is not a new TV show. It’s a blog by an Englishman who retired, but then discovered he was very bad at it and went back to work. Here’s his most recent rumination about maybe trying again.

There was a new ZenPencils about Akira Kurosawa, and I missed it until just now!

SMBC comic explains how medical research works. I’d always wondered.

Hey – you’re awesome, and I’m glad you’re around. Take care this week,

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