Earlier Tuesday, during the Senate majority's weekly news conference, Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, said Alaska's tax structure is broken, particularly when it comes to higher oil prices and the state's exposure with tax credits. Credits could top $1 billion next fiscal year, and Parnell's Revenue commissioner has said he's seen no evidence that tax credits to oil companies have led to increased production.
That's something the state might not always be able to afford, and lawmakers need to consider that alongside their duties to pay for education, health, roads "and all the other things that we certainly have obligations to as state senators," McGuire said.
McGuire, a member of the oil flow committee, said she believes a lack of competitiveness is at least part of the problem as it pertains to declining production.
McGuire, who labeled as "half-baked" a tax cut that Parnell introduced during last year's special session and pulled amid criticism, applauded the governor for taking a new approach. She said SB21 is a bill "unlike anything else we've ever seen" and is a great starting point for lawmakers.
Sen. Anna Fairclough, R-Eagle River, said she isn't yet convinced that the progressive surcharge should be scrapped. The surcharge has been credited with helping fatten the state's coffers in recent years.
"I think we need to be very careful as we move forward," she said.
Fairclough said the bill is an opportunity to engage Alaskans in a conversation about the state's future.
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