Senators Strike Back At Parnell’s Oil Tax Bill Claims

Members of Alaska’s bipartisan Senate Majority fired back at Governor Sean Parnell and his allies today (Tuesday) for calling the Senate’s proposed revision of the state’s oil tax structure an “increase.”

The governor’s office, state Chamber of Commerce, and Alaska Oil and Gas Association sent “Action Alert” emails to in-boxes across the state yesterday (Monday), urging Alaskans to testify at hearings this week on Senate Bill 192.

The bill is currently in the Senate Resources Committee. Chairman and Fairbanks Democrat Joe Paskvan says the Department of Revenue’s projections for the latest version of the bill show it resulting in a tax decrease of about $250-million a year for oil companies.

“To say that it is a tax increase, I think casts considerable doubt on the Department of Revenue forecasts, and undermines the validity of the Department of Revenue forecasts,” Paskvan said.

Parnell’s email says the bill also “does nothing to stem the decline of oil production.” The Governor says his competing tax cut proposal, House Bill 110, is the only measure to date to get promises of new investment from producers.

Again, Paskvan accused Parnell of playing fast and loose with the facts, noting production has been declining for more than two decades.

“Where the Governor says ‘for more than two years, I’ve heard Alaskans talk about declining oil throughput,’ I think it’s important for the public to consider, that as part of Alaska’s history, there’s been a decline in throughput since 1989,” said Paskvan.

Senate President Gary Stevens – a Kodiak Republican – says the goal of SB 192 has always been to cut taxes, and to suggest otherwise is “deceptive.”

“It never was an intention, no one’s intention in the Senate ever to have a tax increase. So I hope we can put that issue to bed,” Stevens said.

The Senate Resources Committee is scheduled to hear public comment on the bill tonight and tomorrow at 6 p.m. The committee also has nearly 20 amendments to consider before passing the measure on to the Finance Committee for more scrutiny.

Oil and gas taxes make up about 90 percent of the state’s annual revenue.

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