Monday, September 08, 2008

Gov. Sarah Palin: a Deeper Look at her Tax Views

Both presidential candidates have chosen their Vice Presidential picks and Election Day is a mere two months away. On August 29, 2008, Sen. John McCain announced his choice to have the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, serve as his running mate. Within minutes, controversy began, and Palin’s personal life was thrown into the limelight – as well as the rest of her family. However, with so much media attention on Palin’s personal life, it is hard to get a clear view of her position on more important issues, like taxes. To help the readers of my blog make an educated decision come this election I have put together the following outline of Palin’s tax views.

Energy Tax Rebates

In her own state of Alaska, Palin proposed a monthly $100 rebate for all Alaskans to help deal with energy and fuel prices. She soon dumped the monthly idea and decided to make it a flat rebate of $1,200 instead. However, criticism rose almost immediately because the flat rate did not suit every Alaskan’s needs, as fuel prices and demand are different in every region.

Balanced Budget and Tax Relief

As soon as Palin was elected as Governor she carried out a campaign promise and sold a corporate jet purchased by her predecessor for $2.1 million on eBay. Determined to reduce State Budget, she then signed the largest operating budget in Alaska history, $6.6 billion. She also slashed hundreds of construction projects in Alaska, cutting $237 million from the construction budget. The closure of some projects was applauded, while others were criticized, but the state needed the funds regardless of popularity.

In 2007 Palin took on the biggest construction project, the infamous, “Bridge to Nowhere”, which she had originally wanted to rebuild but then later opposed. “She made the final decision to kill a very bad project, so she deserves credit for that. But she didn’t do it as an ideological opponent of earmarks. She did it as someone who had to balance the books,” Keith Ashdown, a tax investigator told the Washington post.

Oil Taxes

Alaska’s economy and way of life has come to depend strongly on oil wealth. Palin proposed a $750 million oil tax increase, which eventually came to $1.5 billion. As soon as the bill was approved in the state’s legislature, Palin signed it into law.

However, she has also fought hard to try to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, which many environmentalists and citizens across the country strongly opposed. The people of Alaska however, who’s economy depends on oil, agree with the drilling.

Finally, Palin has also been a strong supporter of a gas tax holiday, which received national attention when it was supported by McCain and Sen. Hilary Clinton.

Dairy Farm Closure

One of Palin’s more controversial finance choices was her choice to keep a state-owned dairy farm open. The Alaska creamery board recommended that the Matanuska Maid Dairy be closed, but Palin decided to keep it against their advice. Controversy arose when Palin replaced the entire membership of the Board of Agriculture and conservatism (the only people who could fire or hire members of the Alaska creamery board). In 2007, it became clear that the business was unprofitable and not worth keeping. At that time, Palin decided to just sell the farm.

Sales Tax Increase

As mayor of Wasilla, Palin followed through promises to reduce property taxes as well as her own salary. However, she did have to raise the sales taxes by almost half a percent to pay for an indoor ice rink and sports facility though. The project would cost over $15 million to build, but could greatly stimulate small town’s economy. The tax increase was necessary to pay for the ice rink, as the state had already spent their budget on road and sewer projects. Palin pushed to have the sports facility built quickly, before the city had a clear title, and got a bad reputation as the property was in litigation for 7 years.

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