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Effort to overturn oil tax reform is bad for Alaska

Posted: July 1, 2013 - 12:00am

The anti-development instigators of the petition drive to overturn oil tax reform are gushing epithets:

Paid hacks… oil wealth giveaway… harassment from industry shills… flagrant interference… voter intimidation… grease the wheels… cozy relationships… a Legislature whose inner workings would make Jack Abramoff blush…

The only thing they aren’t gushing — is facts.

Even worse, sitting state legislators: Representatives Les Gara, Scott Kawasaki and Harriett Drummond and Senators Hollis French and Bill Wielechowski are trying to inflame the public with outright lies about what SB21 oil tax reform would do.

These anti-development activists have hired Alaska’s most certifiable political gadfly — Ray Metcalfe — to oversee their drive to overturn needed oil tax reform. This is the same Ray Metcalfe who filed a nuisance lawsuit that stopped the North Star project for two years, costing hundreds of Alaskans jobs for two years.

Metcalfe’s minions include non-Alaskan paid signature gatherers, some with criminal records, who are telling Alaskans blatant lies to get them to sign the petition to overturn SB21 oil tax reform. They are telling Alaskans that oil tax reform will cause a downgrade of Alaska’s credit rating; they are telling Alaskans that oil tax reform will threaten the very existence of the Permanent Fund; they are telling Alaskans that oil tax reform will lead to a reinstatement of the state income tax; they are telling Alaskans that oil tax reform will bring the biggest decline in Alaska’s economy in state history.

These statements are not true.

My wife and I are born and raised Alaskans. We got fed-up with these outrageous lies going unchallenged and decided to use the same constitutionally protected rights that these anti-development activists are using to stand in the public commons and challenge their lies.

Predictably, they are now alleging that challenging their misrepresentations is unconstitutional. What a load of moose droppings…

Alaskans who want to provide a counterpoint to paid anti-development signature collectors have the same constitutional protections those out-of-state collectors have.

Here are some irrefutable facts about the creation of SB21 oil tax reform:

Alaska’s pipeline fuels 90 percent of all state spending. That pipeline is only 25 percent as full as it was in the 80’s, and is declining steadily year after year.

Every oil province in America is booming — except Alaska.

Alaska has the best oil geology but the highest cost of exploration and development, and the worst tax code. We can’t fix the high cost of exploration and development — so getting the tax structure right is critical.

The Alaska Legislature, after unprecedented study and testimony, came to a compromise change to oil tax policy that was certainly not met with unbridled enthusiasm by the oil industry. ACES provided tax credits that SB21 took away. But SB21 also created a more fair tax structure to encourage oilfield investment and create jobs for Alaskans.

There is simply no truth in the political agenda of Gara, French, Drummond, Kawasaki and Wielechowski. It could legitimately be called treasonous at a state level. They are willing to sacrifice new exploration and development simply to gain control of the Alaska Legislature and the Governor’s Office.

The anti-oil signature gathering effort is sending a loud and clear message that Alaska does not really want oil industry investments. Make no mistake — the industry is watching and their investments are rational reactions to the development costs and tax structure of the states they choose to invest in.

Signing the petition to overturn tax reform is tantamount to rejecting the lifeblood of funding for Alaska’s education, health care, and quality of life opportunities.

Arthur and April Hackney are lifelong Alaskans. Their company has handled over 100 political campaigns in Alaska over 30 years, including Ted Stevens, Frank Murkowski and Don Young.

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