BY BECKY BOHRER
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has proposed instituting a personal income tax for the first time in 35 years as the oil-dependent state looks to plug a multibillion-dollar budget deficit amid chronically low prices.
In laying out his budget plan Wednesday, Walker also proposed using the fund that provides annual checks to most Alaskans to generate a stream of cash to help finance state government. The plan would change how dividends are calculated and mean lower checks, at least initially — 2016 payouts would be about $1,000 less than this year’s.
The governor warned that if the state stays on its current track, drawing down on savings, the dividend is in danger of ending in 2020.
Alaska isn’t alone among oil-producing states to experience hard times as oil prices stay low. But unlike states like Texas or Louisiana, Alaska has few other industries to make up the difference.
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