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Letter to the Editor

Defending our analysis

To the editor: With recent claims regarding our recent report, “Unsustainable Spending: The State of Alaska’s Budget and Economy,” we want to assure Alaskans about the reliability of our analysis as well as the conclusions we draw.

Alaska policymakers face a situation that requires tough decisions, and they require a complete picture of all options available and the impacts of any proposals they are considering. Our analysis offers a pro-growth solution: cutting inefficient spending first to achieve fiscal stability for the state and avoiding taxes when possible.

Both our qualitative and quantitative analyses rely on methods and models commonly used, and we present our complete methodology so that researchers can validate our findings. Any “boilerplate” writing of our methodology in our current report is an indication that we consistently apply a model that provides a context to understanding how state economies function. Using state-specific data, our model is tailored to study how tax changes affect Alaska. This is no different from the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage using IMPLAN, which uses a general framework to model a state economy and relies on Alaska-specific data to evaluate potential policies. There are, however, important differences between the two frameworks, but the fact that we both find harmful impacts of taxation should be a signal that new taxes are not the best answer to solving Alaska’s current problems.

We encourage a debate that recognizes the costs and benefits of any proposal to address the state’s budget shortfall. And while our model cannot evaluate every potential policy solution imaginable, we did analyze four that have been proposed through legislation in recent years.

We also point out that academic studies that have examined governments facing budget crises find the best course is to cut spending and avoid new taxes. We understand that Alaska faces its own challenges based on its economy, but ignoring lessons from respected scholars is not a responsible approach to policymaking.

Alaska’s policymakers must look at all possibilities to address the state’s shortfall, but before they raise taxes, they — and Alaskans — should understand the impact that decision would have.

Guidelines

The Daily News-Miner encourages residents to make themselves heard through the Opinion pages. Readers' letters and columns also appear online at newsminer.com. Contact the editor with questions at letters@newsminer.com or call 459-7574.

Community Perspective

Send Community Perspective submissions by mail (P.O. Box 70710, Fairbanks AK 99707) or via email (letters@newsminer.com). Submissions must be 500 to 750 words. Columns are welcome on a wide range of issues and should be well-written and well-researched with attribution of sources. Include a full name, email address, daytime telephone number and headshot photograph suitable for publication (email jpg or tiff files at 150 dpi.) You may also schedule a photo to be taken at the News-Miner office. The News-Miner reserves the right to edit submissions or to reject those of poor quality or taste without consulting the writer.

Letters to the editor

Send letters to the editor by mail (P.O. Box 70710, Fairbanks AK 99707), by fax (907-452-7917) or via email (letters@newsminer.com). Writers are limited to one letter every two weeks (14 days.) All letters must contain no more than 350 words and include a full name (no abbreviation), daytime and evening phone numbers and physical address. (If no phone, then provide a mailing address or email address.) The Daily News-Miner reserves the right to edit or reject letters without consulting the writer.

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