Monthly Archives: December 2005

Congress Drops Low-Income Energy Assistance

In a move certain to have a disastrous effect on many Alaskan families, Senate leaders deleted from the bill a provision adding $2 billion in badly needed energy assistance funding this winter for low-income households. The full text of a December 22 press release from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities follows…

Move Is Unnecessary and Means Poor Will Receive No Extra Help Against High Home Heating Costs This Winter
PDF of press release

Forced to drop a controversial provision authorizing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) from the defense appropriations bill, Senate leaders also stripped from the bill a provision adding $2 billion in badly needed energy assistance funding this winter for low-income households. This development, which early media accounts have misreported, was not necessitated by the removal of the ANWR provision and will result in greater hardship for large numbers of low-income Americans this winter, a new Center analysis explains. Read the rest of this entry

Property Taxes: Not All Bad

I always liked that old saw, “the devil’s in the details,” because it is so often so true, and if there were a poster boy for the concept, it would be property taxes. Property taxes have the potential of providing fair, equitable, and stable funding for many of the social services that contribute to a better quality of life for working families. At the same time, the basic principles of property taxation can be deliberately twisted and obfuscated in a welter of technical gibberish, hiding the actual use of property taxation to heavily tax low and moderate income families, while letting corporate and wealthy property owners pay less than their share. Moreover, the actual fact of inequitable and unfair property taxes, or the manufactured perception of unfairness, can be used as a club to move public opinion and policy makers to propose “solutions,” such as sales taxes, that have the potential to be even more inequitable and unfair to working families. Read the rest of this entry

Do Your Homework

On October 27, 2005, after the termination of employment of Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Irwin, Governor Murkowski’s office was flooded with resignation letters from Deputy Commissioners and DNR Division Directors.

Both DNR Deputy Commissioners, three Directors, and one Project Assistant submitted letters of resignation to the Governor. Each indicated that the dismissal of Irwin was a motivating factor for their respective resignations. Additionally, each letter indicated that the Murkowski administration was moving in a direction which they could not support. One went so far as to state that he did not believe the actions taken by the administration were not in the best interest of the State of Alaska.

Because the negotiations are all confidential, Alaskans do not know what the State is offering and/or requiring in order to strike this deal. Whatever it is, the deal and the actions of the administration effectively eliminated the Department of Natural Resources at a very critical time. Read the rest of this entry

Medicaid Dental Coverage for Adults

Low income adults in Alaska need access to preventative dental care. Currently, Medicaid in Alaska covers only services which relieve pain and acute infection. No cleanings, no braces, no root canals, no dentures.

According to the Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health (Executive Summary), poor oral health has been linked to several other health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Additionally, employability is decreased when individuals have visibly decayed or missing teeth. Read the rest of this entry

There's Enough Traffic on the Haul Road

Thanks to Senator Kim Elton for the following commentary and quoted testimony…

The Senate Resources Committee spent a week in October soliciting testimony on SB 85, sponsored by Fairbanks Senator Ralph Seekins. The bill repeals the ban on off-road vehicles in the haul road corridor–the Dalton Highway. Hearings were held in Nome, Fairbanks, Coldfoot/Wiseman (on the haul road), Barrow, and in the Anchorage bedroom community of Peters Creek. Testimony was overwhelmingly opposed to the bill. The following is excerpted testimony presented by then-Mayor George Ahmaogak of Barrow to the committee. Read the rest of this entry