Seems lots of heavy hitters want to take one more run at persuading our legislators to tap our Permanent Fund. ...
For those with short memories, when Ben Stevens sponsored legislation proposing to tap the fund, he was President of the Senate and heir apparent to his father’s seat in the US Senate.
Now he is the heir apparent to something else entirely.
I’ll get off the Legislature’s back when three things happen.
1. Every Alaskan is guaranteed not less than a $2,000 annual dividend.
2. And the Legislature requires BP, Exxon, and ConocoPhillips to pay Alaskans a combination of taxes and royalties comparable to what other oil producing countries require BP, Exxon, and ConocoPhillips to pay when they produce similar amounts of oil at similar costs of production form their oil fields.
3. And the Permanent Fund Grows to $100 Billion, which by my calculation, is about the point at which the Fund will spin off enough earnings to sustain its continued growth and:
a. Replace the State’s current level of income when the oil runs out,
b. Plus restore revenue sharing to every city, town, and village in Alaska, and
c. Pay every man, woman, and child a dividend of not less than $2,000 per year.
Tapping the Fund at this time would have the effect of reducing pressure for our Legislature to extract a fair price for our oil from those who produce it and very likely result in its depletion and destruction before it is large enough to support government, pay dividends, and sustain its self.
Our recently passed new legislation providing for the funding government, (the 22.5 percent Petroleum Production Tax, a.k.a the PPT), was pushed through by Ben Stevens and Veco. The legislation fell between $1.5 and $2 billion short of what BP, Exxon, and ConocoPhillips already willingly pay other countries for the right to produce, refine, and sell their oil.
Ben Stevens, and a few other legislators are now the subject of an FBI investigation over their relationship with Veco and, among other things, their involvement in Veco’s successful effort in securing the votes to pass Veco’s preferred 22.5 percent PPT tax package.
If past influences and future objectives of Veco and the “Corrupt Bastards Club” aren’t brought to an end, corrupt legislators will spend the last dime of our Permanent Fund about the same time their friends at BP, Exxon, and ConocoPhillips suck our last barrel of oil out of the ground and leave.
If we let them, the producers will take everything we have and leave Alaska as the poorest state in the nation.
With a little luck, we may see a few legislators prosecuted for taking bribes to sell their fellow Alaskans short, and the eye opening observation will hopefully cause the remaining 24 currently seated legislators, who have been gleefully accepting Veco’s campaign contributions and voting for their bills, to rethink their position on oil taxes.
Critics of preserving the fund are correct in that we may soon have a problem budgeting for needed public services if we don’t act. However, for 20 years, more than enough money to solve past and future budget problems has been inappropriately leaving Alaska, in the form of excessive profits to oil companies who willingly pay much higher taxes for similar rights in many other oil producing countries.
If in the near future FBI investigation demonstrates that those pushing our recently passed 22.5 percent Petroleum Production Tax wouldn’t have had the votes to pass such a low production tax without the use of bribes, isn’t it then the obligation of those pounding the ethics drum today to take a second look at how we tax oil?
My bottom line is this: As I did with Ben Stevens, I will initiate a background investigation, and very likely a petition seeking the removal from office, of any legislator who repeats Ben Stevens’ attempt to solve Alaska’s future budget problems on the backs of Alaska’s residents before Alaska’s taxes on oil match what BP, Exxon, and ConocoPhillips already willingly pay to other oil producing countries.
Ray Metcalfe is the chairman of the Republican Moderate Party.
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