Opponents Of New Oil Tax Law Offer Their Alternatives

With the deadline for filing new legislation arriving Monday, opponents of the new oil tax system have offered their own alternatives.

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Sen. Bert Stedman, a Republican from Sitka, filed his legislation on Friday, and it keeps the overall structure of the new system intact. The tax ceiling would remain at 35 percent, but credits for oil produced would be smaller.

A trio of Democrats – all from Anchorage – suggest a different approach. Sen. Bill Wielechowski, Sen. Hollis French, and Rep. Les Gara would like to reinstate a modified version of “ACES” — a system that taxes profits on a sliding scale and offers credits for work done in Alaska.

Gara believes that the tax change made last year was not necessary, given that North Slope oil production has been consistently profitable for producers.

“Why are you giving away billions of dollars in Alaska revenue, cutting school funding, cutting construction jobs, harming the economy, just to benefit fields that are making among the highest rates of return anywhere in the world?” said Gara at a press conference.

The package they filed Monday resembles a bill they introduced last session, which never got a hearing.

Parnell’s oil tax legislation passed last year by a slim margin in the State Senate. Proponents of the new system argue that it’s encouraged investment on the North Slope since its passage.

Voters will have the final say on whether the system should remain law. A referendum on oil taxes is scheduled to appear on the August primary ballot.

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