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Jake Tapper is ABC News’ Senior National Correspondent based in the network’s Washington bureau. He writes about politics and popular culture and covers a range of national stories.
October 07, 2008 12:33 PM
Do you remember last year when Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., donated a doodle for an auction to benefit Neurofibromatosis, Inc. and epilepsy research? The doodle, of some of his Senate colleagues, sold for more than $2,000 on eBay.
New Republic senior editor Noam Scheiber went up to Alaska to profile the governor and during a visit with Palin’s former colleague on the city council, Laura Chase, found this document — the back of a Wasilla city budget which Palin doodled on in 1996 as she plotted her mayoral campaign.
She makes notes on slogans: “You would be my boss! No tax increase! … Wasilla needs a conservative choice in leadership.”
She makes notes on her resume: “Life Long Alaskan; Graduate: Wasilla High School, Univ. of Idaho (Bach. In Journalism, minor Politics); Wife, mother of three, Homeowners, Businesswoman, TAXPAYER!;…NRA supporter,” “taxpayer!”
There’s a close-up scan of the document HERE.
Two policy items of note:
Planning out her campaign promises, Palin writes, “no automatic pay increase for the mayors position” and also “City Hall says it sees the need for an increase in sales and property tax to pay for some local politicians wish list. There is no need to raise taxes, Wasilla is collecting two million dollars a year than what we had projected when we sold the sales tax proposal to you four years ago.”
Both of these are forms of claims she has since made on the vice presidential stump -– that she took a pay cut as mayor, and that she fought taxes.
The reality of both is more complicated.
“As mayor, I took a voluntary pay cut, which didn’t really thrill my husband,” Palin said on Sept. 9 in Lebanon, Ohio.
According to documents released by the city of Wasilla, Palin’s mayoral salary did, indeed, drop from $64,200 in October 1996 to $61,200 in January 1997.
But then, a year and a half later, in June 1998, it increased to $68,000.
It went down again one year later, in July 1999, to $66,000 (still higher than her starting salary) but then it increased again, to $68,000 in October 1999, staying at that level until October 2002, when she left office.
So, for most of her time in office, Palin took a raise.
As for taxes, Palin at the vice presidential debate on Oct. 2 said, “as mayor, every year I was in office I did reduce taxes. I eliminated personal property taxes and eliminated small business inventory taxes, and as governor, we suspended our state fuel tax. We did all of those things knowing that that is how our economy would be heated up.”
But Palin didn’t mention the sales tax (though she did mention it in her 1996 doodle) which did go up during her tenure.
Politifact has a thorough look at her debate claim, but the bottom line is that Palin supported a referendum (as did voters) to increase city sales taxes by a half percent to pay for an indoor sports center. One of the ways that Palin as mayor was able to afford lowering all the other taxes was because the sales tax brought in more and more revenue to local government coffers -– almost $6 million in 2002, an increase of approximately 50% from the time Palin began as mayor –- a testament to the city’s growth.
“Under Palin’s mayorship,” notes Politifact, “the city also took on an additional $23.7-million in long-term debt to finance the sports complex, as well as for street and water projects.”
So noted. (Though not so doodled.)
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