Public testimony tilts against oil and gas tax overhaul

Members of the House Resources Committee listen to public testimony on a bill to overhaul the state’s oil and gas taxes and tax credits. (Photo by Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO and Alaska Public Media)

Most Alaskans who offered public testimony Wednesday on a proposed overhaul of the state’s oil and gas taxes and tax credits opposed the measure.

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Fairbanks resident Cynthia Henry urged House Resources Committee members to vote against House Bill 111, a bill that would lower oil and gas tax credits and increase minimum production taxes.

“It would be a big mistake to raise oil taxes,” Henry said. “I’m certain the results would be less investment, less production, fewer jobs and a deepening recession.”

Many of those who oppose the bill cite personal experiences or the experiences of family members working in the oil and gas industry.

Ninilchik resident Jack Kvasnikoff said he has personal experience of the potential change.

“When the oil companies are profitable, you know, there’s more jobs, there’s more people working,” Kvasnikoff said. “And I strongly oppose HB111.”

Nearly three-quarters of the people who testified opposed the bill, some even saying that it doesn’t go far enough in eliminating tax credits.

But Skagway resident Robin Solfisburg supported the bill.

She said changing oil taxes should be the Legislature’s first option as it works to balance the state’s budget.

“I encourage you to stand for Alaska, and not for oil,” she said. “Our schools, public safety and dividends are equally if not more important as tax subsidies.”

The House Resources Committee will hear more public testimony at a future meeting.