By DAVID BOYLE
The Anchorage Assembly is about to tax marijuana users and property owners to pay for childcare and pre-K. It has teamed up with the Anchorage School District to levy the taxes for an unproven pre-kindergarten initiative.
Assembly members Suzanne LaFrance and Kameron Perez-Verdia are sponsoring AO 2022-17(S), which they want to be on the April, 2023 ballot. They cannot do this on their own—they need taxpayers to vote to approve/disapprove a change to the charter so they can push their social agenda.
Does this push for “free” early education help our children? Are there data to back this up? These two Assembly members cite little research to support their position.
Alabama has had the best pre-kindergarten system for 13 years, according to National Institute for Early Education Research.
Unfortunately, that investment in high quality has not seemed to pay off in NAEP scores. Over the last 13 years, Alabama has fallen from 47th to 50th in low-income NAEP 4th grade reading scores. Alaska is the only state that scores lower.
They also mention the current economic “crisis” that the Assembly caused by closing businesses and shuttering daycare centers.
They cite the current struggle that families have in feeding their kids and paying bills, not acknowledging this is due to the Assembly shutting down so many businesses for almost two years during the Covid-19 fiasco.
And are families suffering because the federal government has pumped tons of money into the economy, causing rampant inflation?
The Anchorage Assembly is about to push this daycare and pre-k despite the lack of proof that children would be more ready for kindergarten.
The Assembly wants to tax marijuana users and property taxpayers for this childcare and pre-K, following Rahm Emmanuel’s quote, “Never let a crisis go to waste.”
The two Assembly members stated they have support from “members across the political spectrum.” However, no mention was made of who they are. The support comes from a coalition of the marijuana industry, educators, non-profits, and businesses.
The marijuana industry supports this charter change because it is gifted by a freeze on its retail tax of 5% for 5 years. And the charter change also lowers the maximum tax to 10%.
Here’s the kicker. The marijuana tax will be removed from under the tax cap. It will be replaced by an increase in property taxes. By removing this marijuana tax from the tax cap, they can raise your property taxes without busting the tax cap.
But wait — there’s more! The charter amendment also states that funds from the alcohol tax will also be used to fund this program.
But no worry. Per the charter amendment, “It will cost less than a latte once a month for a year…”.
Taxpayers can testify on AO 2022-17(S) on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at the Anchorage Assembly meeting, which starts at 5 pm. A link to the charter amendment is here.
It’s your money and your latte.
David Boyle is the education writer for Must Read Alaska.