State Sen. Stevens Says Oil Tax Agreement Most Important This Session

State Senate President Gary Stevens says nothing is more important this legislative session than coming to agreement on oil tax legislation.

The Senate’s bi-partisan coalition is writing its own bill to counter Governor Sean Parnell’s proposal to reduce Alaska’s oil profits by giving producers major tax breaks.  Stevens says the Senate Resources version will be drafted in about a week and a half.

Fairbanks Democrat Joe Paskvan – co-chair of the Senate Resources Committee – says Alaska will still behave as an “owner state.”

“You know, we are different than most other jurisdictions in the United States and we need to act like a sophisticated owner with a world class resource,” Paskvan said.

While details are scarce, Senators say the bill will include a progressive surcharge and tax credits.

They told reporters Thursday that they’ve been discussing their approach with the governor, and the two sides may be closer than expected.

Senator Hollis French says the promise of more oil industry jobs for Alaskans will help bridge the gap between the two sides.

A report commissioned by the Senate indicates the administration was wrong last year when it claimed oil industry jobs were being shipped out of Alaska to other oil-rich states.

According to the McDowell Group report, average annual employment on Alaska’s North Slope was at a 20-year high in 2010.

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