Statewide sales tax could be on the horizon

Gov. Mike Dunleavy says all options to close budget gap will be reviewed
Governor Mike Dunleavy announced he plans to introduce a state sales tax bill.
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 8:18 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - During meetings with House and Senate members on Tuesday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced he plans to introduce a state sales tax bill as part of a long-term solution for Alaska’s fiscal health.

“Given the need to reduce the state’s reliance on volatile oil prices, a broad range of ideas have been proposed as the House and Senate work on a comprehensive fiscal plan,” Dunleavy spokesperson Jeff Turner wrote in an email. “Governor Dunleavy is engaging with lawmakers to ensure that any plan they develop, and pass will work for Alaskans.”

A draft for the bill has not been shared yet.

The announcement generated an array of reactions from members of the legislature. During a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday, lawmakers commented on how they believe there is a real concern in the caucus about any type of tax.

Rep. Dan Ortiz was in the meeting and said that a sales tax would not be beneficial for his district in the Southeast.

“We are already comprised of communities that have significant sales taxes in place already,” Ortiz said. “And adding on to an existing sales tax that’s already substantial doesn’t work in the interests of the business community nor the interests of the consumers in our communities.”

Rep. Calvin Schrage was also present during Tuesday’s meeting. He shared that Dunleavy presented a variety of ideas to ease the state’s financial woes. According to Schrage, Dunleavy said all options on the table will need to be looked into.

“We need to look at new revenues as a state. Going through these boom and bust cycles over the years dependent on predominantly oil revenues is extremely challenging for our state where we overspend on the good years and then hack and slack services in the bad years,” Schrage said.