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What others say: Oil tax debate begins anew

Posted: September 11, 2013 - 4:23pm

News this week that opponents of the oil tax reform approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor have managed to get repeal of the law on the August 2014 ballot can’t be derided.

The effort to overturn the law can, however, be defeated.

And it should be.

This is a fight about Alaska’s future. It’s not a fight about who has the best slogan.

What Alaskans need to remember is that oil revenue is the source of about 90 percent of the state’s annual general fund revenue. Oil revenue has been high because oil prices have been high, somewhat masking the decline in North Slope oil production. But declining the production is. Alaska this year slipped to fourth among the ranking of the nation’s oil-producing states, in part due to increases elsewhere but also due to the continued drop in oil coming from up north.

Alaska needs to do something to spur increased oil production. That much is clear.

Should Alaskans be content with the way things are? No. Should Alaskans be willing to make appropriate concessions to induce increased oil production? Yes. Can that production be guaranteed? No.

What Alaska can do is make the best possible business decision with the information derived from extensive research. That’s what the Legislature did and what Gov. Sean Parnell urged them to do.

As is often said, all of us Alaskans are in the oil business. And that’s an especially pertinent point right now, with the announcement of the amount of the annual oil revenue payment to individual Alaskans — the permanent fund dividend — coming later this month.

Repeal of the law will be on the August 2014 primary election ballot. Those who support the law must make a clear and convincing case in favor of the law to an electorate that contains a sizable bloc of voters wary of the oil companies.

— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,

Sept. 7

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