House Passes Governor’s Oil Tax Bill

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

The state House Thursday night passed the governor’s controversial oil tax bill that is expected to make large reductions in state revenue.

The plan’s trade-off is the hope that the tax breaks to the oil industry will increase now-stagnant production on the North Slope.

Five members of the House majority voted against the measure that passed on a twenty two to sixteen vote after several hours of debate.

Among those Republicans voting against the bill was Majority Leader Alan Austerman, of Kodiak.  He said he agreed with the need for lowering oil taxes,  but he couldn’t support the governor’s way of doing it.

Earlier in the day, Democrats had unsuccessfully proposed amendments that would have required specific actions or results from oil companies getting the tax benefits.   Anchorage Democrat Mike Doogan said the bill is a mistake.

Many supporters expressed concerns about the technical aspects of the bill.  However, they said the recognition that oil production is declining overshadowed those concerns.  Juneau Republican Cathy Munoz said Alaska has been fortunate in the past few years while the rest of the country has suffered.

The bill next goes to the Senate where the bipartisan majority has said it will not pass.

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