ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska voters have retained a new petroleum production tax system that offers hope of increased investment and jobs but drew criticism as a giveaway to already profitable oil companies.
The state Division of Elections counted 17,721 absentee and early votes Tuesday, giving repeal opponents the victory. The "no" side increased its lead from 6,880 to 8,443 votes. The unofficial overall count was 90,150 to 81,707, giving the no side a 52.5 percent edge.
"The results confirm that voters decided to give the oil tax structure a chance to work," said Willis Lyford, spokesman for the Vote No on 1 campaign.
Gov. Sean Parnell's "More Alaska Production Act" took effect Jan. 1.
It replaced the system championed by former Gov. Sarah Palin, "Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share," or ACES, which gave tax credits for investment but contained a progressive surcharge that took a larger tax bite from company profits when oil prices increased.
Oil companies lobbied for changes. They said ACES made investment planning uncertain and investment elsewhere more likely.
ACES supporters acknowledged flaws in the Palin law but said it should be tweaked, not tossed. They called the Parnell plan a giveaway to oil companies with no provision to guarantee new investment.
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