As young Alaskan business owners, we would be very appreciative of an organization like the State Chamber of Commerce to represent our business interests. However, it seems that the Chamber has no regard for the interests of Alaskan businesses. If they did, their annual “Business Report Card” would represent a variety of industries.
The Report Card is meant to be a type of voters guide, and gives grades to state legislators based on their business support. Despite having a diverse array of member businesses, the Chamber appears to base their report card purely on allegiance to the oil industry. Considering the fact that less than 5 percent of Alaskans are employed by the oil industry, and that their scorecard seems to ignore fishing, tourism, education, healthcare, timber and everything else, it is clear that Alaskan businesses are not being well represented by this oil faction.
We know that Alaskans benefit greatly from our oil resource. In the face of declining production though, how is it fathomable that it’s in Alaska’s best interest to subsidize some of the largest corporations around? After the passage of SB 21, the oil tax deal, it’s a question many of us are asking. This multibillion dollar handout is not even a subsidy: it comes with no secured, tangible benefits. It’s nothing more than a straight-up handout. We are amazed that a “conservative” organization like the Chamber could possibly support such a grandiose government handout. And it appears that they do support the handout, based on the grades administered to legislators last year.
While Sitka’s Republican Senator Bert Stedman (a real business-minded representative) was given an F for his performance (he also happens to oppose the oil tax giveaway), his colleagues Cathy Geissel and John Coghill were awarded an A+ and A-. Go figure: Geissel is married to an oil industry lobbyist (literally) and Coghill is arguably the most party line Republican senator.
It is presumable that this year’s Business Report Card will applaud the legislators who supported this massive handout. It’s hard to say whether the Chamber’s endorsements, or corporate money and lobbyists are responsible for the oil tax giveaway, but Governor Parnell and his cohorts should accept their A’s in shame. The Chamber should also award itself an A for its efforts in giving away the future of Alaska’s businesses and economy. In a time when our schools are scrambling to survive and small businesses are closing their doors, these “representatives” just sold out our future for no good reason at all.
How does it make business sense to “invest” in a declining industry and leave 95 percent of Alaskans by the wayside? The tried and true Alaskan model of harvesting renewable resources, coupled with our abundant renewable energy opportunities should be the focus of a business-minded Chamber that truly wants to represent Alaskan businesses and the people behind them. It is clear to us that the Chamber of Commerce does not represent the best interest of our business; think twice before assuming it represents the interests of yours.
And by the way, there is good news: We have a chance to repeal the oil tax giveaway. To join statewide efforts to put it on the 2014 ballot for repeal, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adam Hackett &