Testimony On Oil Tax Overhaul Begins

Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Public testimony is being taken today and tomorrow on Governor Parnell’s plan to reduce oil production taxes. For weeks, two House committees have been hearing about the bill from administration officials, the oil industry and the business community, but tonight is the first opportunity for the public to speak.

The House Finance Committee teleconference runs until 8:00 p.m. Another teleconference for public testimony is scheduled for Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Parnell’s House Bill 110 reduces the amount of taxes oil companies would pay – in the hope it would spur more investment in Alaska. While oil company representatives support the plan, they’ve given no assurances their companies would put more in Alaska in exchange for lower production taxes.

Meanwhile, Governor Parnell again chastised the Senate for doing nothing on the legislation. It’s being heard in the Senate Resources Committee, but Parnell says it’s not moving fast enough.

Even if oil companies promised more investment, it would be years before any new oil reached the pipeline.

Senate President Gary Stevens has been sitting through Senate Resource hearings on Parnell’s legislation and says the committee will set it aside in favor of a bill sponsored by Senator Tom Wagoner. Senate Bill 85 bill does not change the oil tax regime.

While some legislators believe Wagoner’s bill could jump start production again, Stevens says there’s no guarantee any oil tax bills will pass this session. Under Parnell’s legislation, the state would forego an estimated 2 million dollars a year in oil tax revenue, based on current prices.

“We just can’t give away the farm, Stevens says

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