NFIB/Alaska State Director Denny DeWitt reports from the State Capitol on the legislative week ending January 22, 2016
The Alaska Legislature is back in session as of Tuesday, January 19. The big topic this year will be the state budget, including the estimated $3.5 billion revenue shortfall. Discussions will include budget cuts, use of the Permanent Fund earnings reserve, general taxes, and sin taxes.
The 2016 NFIB member ballot told us that the members strongly oppose an income tax (74 percent) and sales tax (63 percent). Almost half oppose using the earnings reserve to balance the budget. We do support reducing the cost of government.
Gov. Bill Walker has proposed:
- a personal income tax (House Bill 250 and Senate Bill 134)
- a motor fuel tax (House Bill 249 and Senate Bill 132)
- mining taxes (House Bill 253 and Senate Bill 137)
- taxes on cruise ships
- taxes on fisheries
- taxes on alcohol
- taxes on tobacco.
The Legislature has introduced 104 new bills, 26 of them are being tracked by NFIB for their potential impact on small business.
- we will continue our opposition to raising the minimum wage to $15
- oppose equal pay status
- we also have bills mandating benefits that we continue to oppose
- and a couple that deal with payment process that may or may not affect premiums.
Workers compensation will continue to be an important issue as we continue looking for savings in the program. NFIB will be watching them all as we see just what the legislature wants to discuss.
Returning bills from last year include:
- medicaid reform
- mandated sick leave
- and daylight saving time repeal.
We are going to busy working together this year.