New Oil Tax Bill Said to be Out from Senate Committee Next Week
Also House Democrats are proposing provocative measures on savings and taxes
A new oil tax bill is expected out of the Senate Resources Committee next week.
In the lull before the most prominent of the issues this session comes back on the front burner, house Democrats are proposing some provocative measures on savings and taxes.
A new oil tax bill supposedly will be introduced no later than February 10.
Senators say they’ll give the house a full month to consider it before the end of the 90-day session.
Before that fray begins, though, the House Minority is providing some fodder for commentary on other topics.
Representative Mike Doogan (D-Anchorage) figures there is nearly $22 billion in savings squirreled away in various state accounts, not including the Permanent Fund.
Doogan proposes to take $10 billion out of the main savings account – the Constitutional Budget Reserve – and move it into the principal of the Permanent Fund, where it could not be accessed without a constitutional amendment.
“After you get a doubled state government in 10 years, you have got to say to yourself, 'wait a minute, are we just going to keep doing this forever, running it up 10 percent,' which is what it’s been doing? And so in some senses putting the money in the Permanent Fund puts it in a safe place and then we have to talk seriously about the question of what size state government we’re going to be able to have.”
House Speaker Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) says Doogan’s move is probably not the most prudent fiscal move; he says it could force an income tax if oil production keeps declining.
“If we wanted to use that money, we could take $10 billion of that and either build an in-state gas line that would help all Alaskans – similar to what the Permanent Fund does – or you could take that $10 billion and pay off all the unfunded liability in the state pension plan.”
Meanwhile, Representative Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) wants to eliminate the mandated property-tax exemption for housing provided to teachers for religious institutions.
Gardner says her bill is not specifically targeting the Anchorage Baptist Temple, whose exemptions are being reviewed by the municipality.
“But when the bill passed originally to allow exemptions for religious-owned teacher housing, I thought that wasn’t right and fought it back then, but lost that battle, and so it’s always been kind of a nagging problem. And when I go door-knocking and talk to teachers, it’s something that’s still raised, even before the recent publicity, that teachers feel is unfair,” Gardner said.
“That’s more of an Anchorage issue than it is my particular issue,” Chenault said. “I don’t know how many other churches or others are taking advantage of that tax credit, without finding out from the local municipalities.”
Before the whirlwind of the session, some other issues are taking center stage, if only for a moment.
At today’s press availability of the Senate Bipartisan Majority, senators said they will have their own oil tax bill drafted as soon as Wednesday of next week, with a hearing in the Senate Resources Committee the following Friday.
Details are sketchy for now, but senators say they will look at proposals to take the edge off the progressive feature of the tax, which has sharp percentage increase in state revenue at high oil prices.