Alaska Senate Bill 21 has narrowly passed the AK Senate and heads to the Alaska House where its likelihood of passing is very high, Pat Fogey, Alaska Dispatch reported yesterday. It is mainly Democrats who are standing up to support Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES), the tax system ushered in under former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin that has brought her state a surplus while still bringing in handsome profits for the oil companies. Under ACES, oil companies are given capital expenditure tax credits to explore and drill; taxes on their profits increase when oil prices increase. ACES replaced the Petroleum Profits Tax, which was a hotbed for corruption and warehousing of the resource, which belongs to Alaskans as mandated by the State Constitution.
Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, a former ConocoPhillips lobbyist has waged an all-out war on ACES since being elected in 2010. Parnell took office on July 26, 2009 when Gov. Palin resigned because frivolous ethics complaints, lawsuits, and Freedom of Information Requests ground her office to a halt and left her with over $500,000 in legal bills.
Democrats in Alaska’s House are outnumbered 30 to 10, Fogey reported. “We don’t think we should be cutting Alaskans’ budget, our budget, just to give the oil companies a little extra profit on their bottom line,” said Rep. Max Gruenberg, D-Anchorage. “In the House, which last session passed an oil tax cut that was then stymied in the Senate, the bill’s chances are considered to be good. Republicans, led by oil industry ally Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, enjoy a 30-10 supermajority,” Fogey wrote. SB-21 goes to the House Resources Committee today.
The Alaska Senate approved the bill with an 11 – 9 vote. Senate Democrats slammed the bill as a “crapshoot”. “‘Here we are in a crapshoot in the dark, being asked to give away billions,’ said Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau and leader of the House’s Democratic minority.”
Alaskans are urged to contact their Representatives in the House and tell them to vote NO on SB-21.
H/T Lynda Armstrong, “I Stand With Sarah: a Tribute” Facebook Group.