JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaskans can "legitimately expect" billions of dollars more in new investment in the next few years under the tax changes recently approved by the state Legislature, Gov. Sean Parnell said.
The Republican governor told The Associated Press that during his latest trip to Europe, he saw firsthand the impact of tax changes on North Sea operations, particularly in Scotland.
He said part of the reason he took the trip — his third, state-sponsored overseas tour — was because he's after new economic opportunities for Alaska residents. Parnell said he now has a better idea of what to expect in Alaska under the recently passed tax plan.
Critics, however, called the trip a junket, saying Parnell was trying to build support for the oil industry tax cut. There is a citizen-backed effort underway aimed at repealing the plan.
"I understand there are those in the Legislature who, for political ends, want these changes to fail," Parnell said. "But I believe they will succeed for Alaskans' benefit."
Based on what he saw overseas, Parnell said, Alaskans should see new oil from legacy fields in two years.
He made his comments in a phone interview Wednesday, before heading home to Alaska. He was expected to announce his future political plans Friday.
During the trip, Parnell also visited Norway. He said he encouraged Statoil to consider development on state lands. The company already has expressed interest in the Alaska Arctic.
Parnell also has faced criticism for touting two recent oil company announcements — including that Repsol found oil in test wells drilled this past winter — as encouraging steps toward new production and investment, given the tax cut hasn't even been signed yet.
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