Communities in Anchorage, Alaska thank the Assembly members for protecting the intended use for the community voted alcohol tax dollars.
Last year, at Anchorage Municipal Elections, citizens voted in favor of a 5% tax increase on alcohol. The voters approved the alcohol tax revenue to be invested in three core areas:
- public safety;
- preventing child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence; and
- preventing and treating substance use disorder, homelessness and mental health emergencies.
As Movendi International reported in early November, this year, the alcohol tax budget for 2022 proposed by Mayor Dave Bronson was not fully in line with the vision and intent of voters when voting in favor of the public health oriented alcohol tax increase.
Unfortunately the alcohol tax budget for 2022 did not reflect the initial vision.
Communities represented by the Anchorage Theory of Positive Change Coalition including Recover Alaska, a Movendi International member organization, called on the Mayor to stay true to the initial vision for the investments to be made with the revenue from the alcohol tax increase.
In early November, 2021 communities voiced their concerns calling to stay true to the initial vision for the alcohol tax dollars.
The Assembly members listened to the communities and on November 23, 2021, the Anchorage Assembly voted to protect the initial vision for the alcohol tax dollars by voting to:
- Reverse cuts and restore early education funding to $2 million.
- Reverse cuts and restore primary prevention grants funding to $2 million.
- Dedicate $250,000 to domestic violence and interpersonal violence response organizations.
- Keep the Mobile Crisis Team in its current form, ensuring effective response to mental health crises.
- Secure new funding for crisis intervention training in Girdwood.
- Keep core Anchorage Health Department functions in the operating budget, not with alcohol tax dollars.
Nevertheless, Mayor Dave Bronson vetoed nearly all of the Assembly amendments. Civil society groups are urging the Assembly to maintain its support for the community priorities, and vote to unanimously override Mayor Bronson’s vetoes as soon as possible.
But Alaska communities express gratitude towards the members of the Anchorage Assembly for working hard to protect the use of the alcohol tax dollars.
The alcohol tax is a precious resource in that it was passed specifically to address some causes of generational trauma,” write Tiffany Hall, executive director for Recover Alaska; Celeste Hodge Growden, president and CEO of the Alaska Black Caucus; and Trevor Storrs, president and CEO of the Alaska Children’s Trust, as per Anchorage Daily News.
By continuing the funding streams for prevention and support services that we committed to in its first year, we sustain our innovative and important community investments in what works to reduce and prevent the issues that harm our community most: violence and abuse, mental health crises, substance misuse and homelessness.
We need to maintain these targeted investments to see real results. Thank you to the Assembly for staying the course and giving this new funding a real chance to make a difference.”Tiffany Hall, executive director, Recover Alaska; Celeste Hodge Growden, president and CEO, Alaska Black Caucus; and Trevor Storrs, president and CEO, Alaska Children’s Trust