The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

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State of the State town hall meeting slated for Thursday

Former city manager will update Valdez on Alaska issues according to clerk's office


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Gov. Walker's Deputy Chief of Staff, John Hozey, will hold a "State of the State" town hall meeting in Valdez this Thursday.

How is Alaska faring in the last weeks of the legislative session?

Valdez will get a first-hand view from the perspective of the governor's office this Thursday night when the town's former city manager, John Hozey - who is now Gov. Bill Walker's deputy Chief of Staff - holds a "State of the State's Affairs" town hall meeting.

"Basically he just wants to give an update from the governors office," Sheri Pierce, city clerk, said after the meeting was announced Monday night.

Pierce said a power point presentation will be part of the program.

Hozey confirmed the visit in an email Tuesday morning.

"Yes, I'm coming home to give a public presentation about the state on Thursday night," he wrote. "I can tell you that I will be presenting an update on the state's fiscal situation, explain the possible solutions, discuss the consequences of inaction, and answer questions from anyone there."

Walker, who calls Valdez his hometown, has been battling the state's fiscal crisis since taking office in January, 2015. He has also been quietly fighting a budget battle with state Legislators, who have been eager to keep chopping at the state's budget, but have been slow to move on raising revenues: ie raising or instituting new taxes.

Last December, Walker proposed vast changes in the state's revenue department that included a state income tax - Alaska's first in 35 years - and a restructuring of how the state distributes Permanent Fund Dividends to Alaskans. Other measures, including those related to oil and gas taxes were also put on the table.

Walker's proposals have gained little traction with lawmakers and a number of bills related to his proposals have languished while other legislative business steams ahead.

The state has been using savings to help cover costs with the deficit, which has hovered around $3.5 billion or more.

Under Walker's plan, the proposed personal income tax would be 6 percent of a person's federal tax liability - the amount in taxes paid to the federal government. Under this scenario, if your federal tax liability is $5,000, you would pay $300 in state taxes.

It is estimated that the tax would generate about $200 million a year.

Walker also proposed increases in industry taxes such as the sectors of mining, fishing, oil and tourism; increases in fuel for planes, boats and vehicles; and increases in alcohol and cigarette taxes.

He has also proposing changes to the oil tax credit program.


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