Panel: Tax likely contributed to continued decline

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 7, 2013 at 8:24 pm •  Published: February 7, 2013
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"Although SB21 is an adequate platform from which a respectful dialogue can begin, in the current form the bill may not adequately provide production credit incentives and opportunities; a level revenue proportion for Alaskans; and protections for Alaska hire and re-investment," the letter states.

Issues raised by Gardner were included in the letter, and she thanked co-chair Peter Micciche for his efforts to be fair and inclusive. She voted against the letter because she said she hadn't had time to study it.

She said later that she doesn't believe the bill will affect the level of throughput in the trans-Alaska pipeline.

The committee's leaders have said they plan to continue looking at other issues that might be affecting oil production.

All sides share the goal of getting more oil into the pipeline. The disagreement lies in how best to do that.

Minority Democrats in both the House and Senate plan to introduce bills aimed at new production. Democratic leaders argue the current system is working, benefiting both the state and companies, but said they are open to tweaks to improve it.

Senate Democrats said Wednesday that they were encouraged by some of the skepticism and questions being asked by Republicans.

When Republicans took control of the Senate following last year's elections, there were concerns, notably from Democrats, that there would be a rubber-stamping of any oil tax plan put forth by Parnell. The Senate's bipartisan ruling coalition in 2011 effectively killed Parnell's first attempt at cutting taxes. A plan he proposed during last year's special session was criticized by members in both parties and chambers before being pulled.

"It will be very, very interesting to watch, if people put party first, the oil industry first, their caucus first or if they put their conscience and the future fiscal and economic wellbeing of the state of Alaska first," Senate Minority Leader Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage, told reporters Wednesday.

Industry representatives this week told the special committee the governor's bill is a good start. But concerns were raised with how the measure deals with tax credits and incentives for legacy fields, and the bill was seen as a tax increase at lower oil prices.

Parnell said Wednesday that he understands oil companies "want it all. And they can't have it all, you know? That's Alaskans' oil. And, so I am better protecting Alaskans at lower oil prices with this proposal, and I think that's something we need to do."

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For more on SB21: http://bit.ly/XrITlS

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Follow Becky Bohrer at http://twitter.com/beckybohrerap .