A State Income Tax was Discussed at a Community Forum in Kodiak

Mitch Borden/KMXT

Mitch Borden/KMXT

At a recent community forum in Kodiak, members of the Alaska House of Representatives addressed the state’s budget deficit and one viable, yet unpopular solution: an income tax. It was an open forum, so most of the time was spent on audience questions.

Jessica Penaloza was in the audience and stood up to share with the representatives that her family pays about $2,500 a month for health insurance. She says she doesn’t know what they’ll do if they have to pay an income tax.

“It just gets to be point where I almost don’t want to live here anymore. It’s getting to be unsustainable to live in this economy for families like us.”

Democratic Representative and, the Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon is sympathetic to Penaloza’s situation. But he says he doesn’t know what other viable options Alaska has.

“If not an income tax, what then. I don’t want to see people have to pay, particularly struggling families, a nickel more than they have to. But at the same time, I don’t want to see Kodiak High School to lose 25 percent of its funding or 50 percent, because that’s alternative is to cut the budget. It’s tough choices.”

Even though she thought the representatives at the forum were in favor of an income tax, Jessica Penaloza was cheery as she left.

“I’m hopeful. Yeah, it was nice to meet everybody and I’m glad that they were here. It was a nice meeting to be at and I do like coming to these. I always feel optimistic after leaving them.”

After the forum it was clear the Alaska legislature has a lot of work ahead to balance the budget. But that didn’t stop the representatives from smiling and shaking hands with the people who came out to hear what they had to say.

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