Legislature(2001 - 2002)
02/21/2002 01:40 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 267-ALASKA VETERANS' MEM.ENDOWMENT FUND CHAIRMAN STEVENS announced SB 267 to be up for consideration. Mr. Laddie Shaw, State Director, Veterans Affairs, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs said they established this fund to support the veterans' memorials around the state, of which there are 41. This fund would allow them to manage the memorials, do regular maintenance, and put up new memorials. They presently have $125,000 in the bank that has been donated by private companies throughout the state and they are asking the legislature to assist them in putting the fund completely in place. CHAIRMAN STEVENS asked how they maintain the memorials now. MR. SHAW replied that many of the signs are under the Department of Transportation, but the Byers Lake Memorial is done by volunteers on their own time and donated money. CHAIRMAN STEVENS asked what their long-term objective was for the fund. MR. SHAW answered that they want a fund that is established forever to support all existing institutional memorials in the state. He used the example of the flagpole at the park strip in Anchorage that might have to be replaced in 20 years. He said they want to start the fund at $250,000 and put it in an interest bearing account and let it grow on its own. COLONEL PAT CAROTHERS, Chairman, Alaska Veterans Advisory Council, said the Archie Van Winkel Memorial that is in front of the tram is an example of what can be done. Van Winkel is the only Alaska born Medal of Honor recipient. After the monument was purchased and put in place, there was an excess of $2,000. At about 2 percent interest, it earned $47 last year. This has given them all the money they need for the upkeep. You can see that within five years there would be more than enough to go around and support all the rest of these memorials as they should. The bottom line is that we feel very strongly that the memory of those veterans that have preceded us in death and those veterans who are here now have certain memorials honoring them for their sacrifice not only to America, but to the citizens of this state, that the legislature should come up with the other half of the money to insure that these memorial do not deteriorate and if they do, that they immediately are taken care of - that any of the memorials in this state do not dishonor the memory of these veterans. This is what we are seeking. The people have already put their money up, that's in the bank. We ask fervently that you pass this important legislation favorably out of this committee. CHAIRMAN STEVENS asked if there were plans for any future memorials and would this fund help do that. COLONEL CAROTHERS replied absolutely. PFC Martinez, a native of Colorado who, probably unknown to anyone, was the only one to receive the Medal of Honor for action in Alaska during World War II. He died on Attu and received the Medal posthumously. "He is not a native of Alaska, neither was Sergeant Dicks and neither was Sergeant Bonsteel, but they're all good people and they in one measure or another, have contributed to the greatness of this state through their personal service…" He told them that Sergeant Bonsteel, who died recently, came to Juneau annually and visited many service organizations to instill the spirit of patriotism in the community. He said that we are indebted to all five of those people. He said that the U.S. Juneau memorial on our waterfront bearing the names of everybody that was on her when she went down hasn't been polished in probably 20 years. This fund would take care of that adequately. SENATOR DAVIS said she supported this bill in State Affairs and she was supporting it here, too. MR. LARRY PERSILY, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Revenue, said he would explain briefly how the tax credit would work. Pretty simply this would work just like the education tax credit program works. We have had that on the books since 1987. The way it works and the way this would work is a taxpayer could get a tax credit against their corporate taxes of 50 percent up to the first $100,000 donation and 100 percent of the second $100,000 donation. At a maximum, if someone donated $200,000 to this fund in a given year, they would a $150,000 tax credit against their corporate income taxes to the state. In FY 01 we had about $2 million in education tax credits that were used by 37 taxpayers. To get the education tax credit, your donation has to be to an accredited college or university in the state. So, we're looking at the University of Alaska system, APU, Sheldon Jackson. Of the $2 million in credits 97 percent was used by 16 taxpayers. So you had 21 other taxpayers who used a very small portion of it. The way this legislation is written, a corporate donor would have that $150,000 a year maximum credit total. It wouldn't be per program. So they could give to this fund or a combination of this fund and the university, but they would max out at $150,000. CHAIRMAN STEVENS asked if the money that's already been donated has been eligible for this tax credit yet. MR. PERSILY replied that it hadn't been. "Any donations to the tax credit now are limited solely to the education tax credit program, which would be to accredited colleges and universities." CHAIRMAN STEVENS asked, "Do they get any kind of deduction at all?" COLONEL CAROTHERS indicated that they didn't get any at all. CHAIRMAN STEVENS said that indicated how much people like this program. MR. PERSILY said the funds would endow the program. SENATOR LEMAN said at some time they should review the tax credit percentage structure. MR. PERSILY said that a lot of corporations give the maximum. SENATOR LEMAN moved to pass SB 267 from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered.