Potentially Historic Vote Looms on Oil Taxes
ANCHORAGE - In Juneau, the oil tax debate is headed for a moment of truth.
In the last legislative session, the Senate’s bipartisan coalition blocked Governor Sean Parnell’s attempt to make major reductions in production taxes.
Now with Republicans in charge, the pending bill would reduce taxes by up to $700 million in 2015, and by up to nearly twice that much four years later.
The intent is to induce more investment on the North Slope, with increased production recouping money for the state in the long run.
"With the understanding that in the long run we're going to make money, and that's what people have to understand,” said Senate Finance Co-Chair Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage. “We have two options: We can do this option where we give up a little money in the short run to get more money in the long run, or we could do nothing and have more of the same of what we have right now, which is deficits."
Approval of the tax bill Thursday night by the Senate Finance Committee sets the stage for the bill to move to the Senate floor as soon as Monday.
Furious Senate Democrats said that makes this “the weekend of decision” about a vote they said Alaskans would never forget.
"Who will be the 11th vote?” challenged Senate Minority Leader Johnny Elllis, D-Anchorage. “Who will be the 11 votes and who will be the 11th vote to put this bill for the majority and the governor over the top? That’s something that should live in Alaska history. Everyone should own up to their vote. Because it's going to affect our lives for the rest of our time in Alaska, until the grave. This is it. This is the big showdown over Alaska’s future."
If passed by the Senate, the bill would go to the Republican-led House of Representatives, which supported Parnell’s move to slash taxes the past two years.