My Turn: Stay optimistic, vote no on 1

The Keep Alaska Competitive Coalition — Vote No on 1 group has taken its message on the road in an effort to cut through the clutter and deliver our message directly to the voters.

Dozens of trucks now sport decals that read: “Vote No on 1 … For our families … Our Jobs … For Alaska.”

Alaskans paid for the truck decals, along with 1,800 smaller signs, because we believe Ballot Measure 1 is the most important vote Alaskans have faced in decades. We understand all too well that oil tax reform is an Alaska issue, not an oil company issue.

The oil industry tax base pays for 90 percent of Alaska’s general fund to operate the government. It’s the source of revenue for our Permanent Fund, supports our civic groups and employs directly or indirectly half of all Alaskans. It means Alaskans pay no state sales tax or a state income tax.

Oil companies invest wherever they can make the highest profit on their investment. That’s their responsibility to their shareholders. They will invest in Alaska only if it provides a greater financial return than investments in other places like North Dakota, Texas, California or Indonesia. Reasonable and competitive tax rates are necessary if we are to attract investment in Alaska to reverse the decline in oil production.

Our choices as Alaskans are not so clear. We live here. We have jobs here. We own homes here. We want a future for our kids and grandkids. Where do we go if Alaska oil production drops to the point that the pipeline is abandoned? We can leave Alaska and build our future elsewhere, but that’s not what we want.

That’s why I’m voting no on 1 and spending so much of my time with the “Keep Alaska Competitive – Vote No on 1” campaign. Our supporters consist of thousands of Alaskans who understand the importance of stopping the oil production decline. We are not the oil industry — and we accept no funding from the oil industry.

For three years, our predecessor group, the Make Alaska Competitive Coalition, worked hard on oil tax reform to encourage more production. Even the most ardent opponent of oil tax reform agreed then — and agrees today — that the old system called “ACES” was broken and needed to be fixed. Some of these same people controlled the state senate and spent two years failing to fix a tax scheme that caused Alaska to miss out on the great energy renaissance that swept the nation. It is totally illogical and inappropriate to return to ACES and its proven failure.

SB 21 is working. Already the production decline has almost stopped, new projects are underway and there is renewed optimism on the North Slope. Alaskans should give this new tax policy a chance to prove itself, especially when we all agree that the old oil tax policy was a flop. And if SB 21 doesn’t deliver — if the oil industry does not invest as planned — we can readjust our taxes at any time.

Alaska has a very bright economic future “if” we provide reasonable and competitive taxes and support our petroleum industry. Be sure and vote August 19 — and vote no on 1.

• Jim Jansen is chairman of Lynden and co-chair of Keep Alaska Competitive – Vote No on 1.

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