Voting "NO" to Doing "Nothing": May 20, 2004
On April 26th, HJR26 (POMV) passed the house 27 “YES” to 13 “NO.” I voted “YES” (thereby saying “No” to doing nothing). As a proposed amendment to the Alaska Constitutional amendment, 27 votes (2/3rd) were required for passage.
On May 7th, HJR 26 failed in the Senate by a vote of 5 “YES” to 15 “NO.” As a result of the Senate action (or more properly “inaction”), there was no resolution to Alaska’s long-term fiscal situation. Please don’t shoot the messenger!
The following is the speech I made on the House floor about the POMV vote:
“MR. SPEAKER: I’m in frequent contact with my constituents, and they’re concerned about what we’ve been doing down here - or more accurately, perhaps, what we’re not doing down here. Let me tell you they say, “Just say NO – Just say NO to doing NOTHING!” They tell me we have proposals for an income tax, a sales tax, a POMV thing, a head tax, and I don’t know what else. My constituents tell me we need to “pick our poison” and “get on with it.” OK, I get the message. The POMV split before us has a chance of addressing the budget shortfall, but only if we take action. I’m just a lowly freshman, but I have the feeling that our constituents are more likely to kick us out of office if we do nothing, rather than something. In the military we used to say, “No Guts, No Glory” – and maybe that applies here.
Whatever, the POMV split can help resolve at least some of our fiscal problems – and that’s a good thing, a very good thing. But I call it the “Pontius Pilate Solution” - in other words, we put the POMV up to the voters, and then we wash our hands of it, and blame the voters for whatever they do when they vote in November. And I’m here to tell you that I wouldn’t bet my housecat that the voters will approve the POMV – regardless of its merits – and if it doesn’t pass in November some of us will be back here next January – and we STILL will not have addressed the budget shortfall – and if we think constituents are angry now about our inaction, wait until then. It’s just plain not smart to put our eggs – the future of Alaska – all in one basket.
Here’s something to consider: Perhaps we should consider structuring the POMV vote in November so that if the POMV solution fails, then a reasonable sales tax is in place that’s contingent upon the failure of the POMV plan at the poll. If we don’t get one sensible way to raise revenue, we’ll get the other, and we’ll have done our job. The back up sales tax plan would give the voters more than one choice.”
If there is anyone here who believes voters deserve more than one option in November, and that that option should be a sales tax if the POMV fails in November, let me know, and we can work together – Republicans and Democrats - to draft an appropriate amendment.
Whatever, this 23rd Legislature has an historic opportunity to help set the foundation for the stable and predictable economy we so desperately need, and that foundation will help bring about the resource development we need and want.”