If recently passed legislation to cut taxes on oil companies doing business in Alaska is not repealed by voters, you can say goodbye to annual Permanent Fund dividends and hello to a state income tax.
The money Senate Bill 21 gives back to BP, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon Mobil Corp. will leave Alaska with about the same amount of income from oil revenues that the state treasury had to spend back in 2002, when voters were choosing a new governor and the primary issue was discontinuation of dividends and resurrection of a state tax on income.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average tax countries around the world charged for taking a barrel of oil is about 79 percent of the cash remaining for distribution between oil companies and governments — after all expenses of production and delivery for that barrel have been deducted from its sale proceeds and paid. By the Energy Department’s calculation, take-home profits for companies like BP, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon average about 21 percent of what’s left over after expenses.
Two recent news items out of Norway caught my attention. The first happened April 30th when Governor Parnell went there to discuss tax policy. The second was the announcement on May 6th that Norway had decided to make a change to its oil tax laws.
Now, I don’t know whether the governor was responsible for the May 6th tax change. But I like to imagine that the Norwegians listened very carefully to the governor’s reasons for lowering taxes here. Being the sober and meticulous people they are, they ran a complex cost-benefit economic analysis on his ideas. They studied the results and then came to a reasoned decision. To raise taxes.
Sixteen borough residents formed a committee to promote the Better Elections Initiative. The purpose for this initiative is to implement a better voting system for Kenai Peninsula Borough residents that include “Vote by Mail” with a “Ranked Choice Voting” provision. The ballot initiative was filed at the borough clerk’s office on May 10.
“These changes will promote greater voter turnout, provide more opportunity for voters to make an informed decision at each borough election and will save our borough money,” said Fred Sturman, Initiative co-sponsor.
As I bike around town I am thrilled to see indications that momentum is building for Homer to become a healthier community. Many of our local individuals, businesses and organizations are devoting energy and resources through various collaborations and projects which offer opportunities to develop and participate in active, healthy lifestyle choices. There are way too many to list them all here; a partial list of newcomers includes Kachemak Bay Running Club, Alaska Training Room, Seldovia Village Tribe Health Center’s Thriving Thursdays, Homer Playground Project and many successes that originated in MAPP.
Considerable controversy and misinformation has developed regarding escapement goal measures for late run Kenai River king salmon. Numerical restatement of the sustainable escapement goal was established by Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff and peer reviewed. It was introduced to the public at an Upper Cook Inlet Task Force meeting, and then adopted by the Board of Fisheries with a unanimous vote to make no changes to the late run king salmon management plan for 2013.
There has been some controversy in our community about riparian buffers, which would extend protection to freshwater salmon habitat. As an Alaskan, I regard salmon to be an iconic embodiment of ourselves. Heroic in their persistence, stamina, and determination – salmon reflect the qualities we value as a people.
Riparian buffers are vegetated areas near a stream, river, or lake that protect water quality and assist with temperature regulation, while mitigating impacts of adjacent land uses. Riparian buffers act to intercept sediment, nutrients, pesticides, and other materials in surface runoff.
Imagine this headline: “House of Representatives approves proposal for guaranteed annual income by wide margin.” The passage of that kind of social welfare measure sounds wholly implausible today, but, in fact, the House did pass such a bill in April of 1970 by a vote of 243 to 155. The measure, The New York Times reported, “establishes for the first time the principle that the government should guarantee every family a minimum annual income.”
As the hours of daylight ascend and temperatures rise, Alaska’s rivers are opening back up to welcome home returning salmon. Sport and personal-use anglers are readying their gear in anticipation of the summer fishing season. While the preseason forecast for sockeye salmon is robust for the Kenai River, projections for Kenai kings are one of the lowest on record for both the early and late runs.
When Homer’s varsity soccer teams opened their seasons Friday on Colony High’s shiny new artificial turf playing field, it was the first time all year that Homer players had gotten outdoors to play. Homer’s grass field was still sodden and untouchable. For their opponents from Houston High, who have access to state-funded turf and indoor fields in the Valley and Anchorage, it was already the fourth game of the year.
If there’s a golden rule when it comes to saving and building healthy money management habits, it’s this: the earlier you start, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Money management is probably the last thing on the minds of most kids. There are concrete steps you can take as a parent or guardian to help ensure that your children know how to save for their future. If you plant those seeds with care, they’ll take root, and your children are much more likely to achieve financial success later in life.
Kids are much more likely to spend rather than save. Even parents who try to teach their children about finances, such as by giving them a regular allowance, might find their lessons overshadowed by messages that come from advertising, or from children’s peers. By the time most young people graduate from high school, they know all about spending and very little about saving.