House sends income tax bill to Senate

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham) speaks in favor of a tax on income to fund education. The House passed the bill, 22-17. (Photo by Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO/Alaska Public Media)

The House passed a bill Saturday that would bring a state income tax to Alaska for the first time in 37 years. The vote sends it to the Senate, where leaders oppose the tax.

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Dillingham Democratic House Speaker Bryce Edgmon said the Education Funding Act, House Bill 115, is needed to prevent rural communities from suffering.

“The way I view it, if we do a partial plan this year, we’re going to cut the like amount next year and probably the year after,” Edgmon said. “We really are going to see a lot of schools shutting down. Where are those students going to go? That’ll be a question for tomorrow.”

A single person with no children earning $40,000 a year would pay $617 under the tax. A married couple with two children and $100,000 in income would pay $1,483.

Eagle River Republican Rep. Dan Saddler said the tax would harm the private sector.

“Let’s call this for what it is – it is income redistribution,” Saddler said. “It’s taking from the haves and giving to the have-nots.”

Gov. Bill Walker praised the House for passing the bill as part of a plan to balance the budget. The tax would close a quarter of the gap between what the state spends and what it raises.

But the bill faces a difficult path in the upper chamber. Senate President Pete Kelly said it will receive a fair hearing. But he also said the idea of taxing working Alaskans during a recession is “absurd on its face.”

Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at

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