Forum Shows Contrasts in HD 31 Candidates

Aug 8, 2016

The candidates for House District 31: Homer Mayor Beth Wythe, Rep. Paul Seaton and John Cox.
Credit Photo by Casey Marsh/KBBI

Tune in to KBBI this Wednesday from 9-11 a.m. to hear the entire candidate forum hosted by the Friends of the Homer Library.

The forum took place Aug. 5 at the Homer Public Library with Rep. Paul Seaton, Homer Mayor Beth Wythe and candidate John Cox.

The three are running in the Alaska Republican primary for the House of Representatives seat in District 31 that is currently held by Seaton.

The forum lasted two hours and addressed topics ranging from books read by candidates to reproductive rights and health care, among other things. But the big question was how each candidate would help solve the state’s fiscal crisis if they get elected.

The incumbent, Paul Seaton, said the Legislature needs to look at cutting big chunks now, and that means cutting oil and gas tax credits.

“That’s the biggest expenditure when you consider both the cashable tax credits and those that are deducted from the taxes that oil companies would pay. That is the largest expenditure in the entire state of Alaska — larger than the university, larger than health care and larger than K-12 education,” Seaton said.

Candidate John Cox agreed with Seaton that the oil and gas tax credits need to be cut. But he also said that some smaller chunks need to be cut from government, too, and he specifically targeted education boards.

“For example, the Department of Education. All right, now, I’m not talking about taking money away from the teachers, I’m talking about doing away with all the school boards. Why do we have so many boards throughout the state? They’re all doing the same job,” Cox said.

In addition, Cox suggested that the state could save money by cutting pay for government employees and by having the Legislature meet every other year instead of annually.

Candidate Wythe also agreed that oil and gas tax credits must be reformed but said she would not advocate for across-the-board cuts.

“Specifically, I would look at the reform of the oil [and gas] tax credits from the perspective of not eliminating them but helping them be as beneficial to the state of Alaska as they can be, financially,” Wythe said.

In addition, Wythe said programs that are not meeting goals set by the state should be eliminated, and advocated for general belt tightening.

When asked whether they thought an income tax should be implemented to raise state funds, Seaton said yes, while Cox and Wythe said no. All three candidates said the state should not implement a state sales tax.

The Alaska Primary Election is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 16.