My Turn: Consider the facts before voting

Vic Fischer, one of the two surviving delegates to the Alaska Constitutional Convention, recently quoted Bob Bartlett, our first U.S. senator, who cautioned Alaskans not to allow us to become captive to out-of-state companies. Alaskans will decide on Aug. 19 whether we allow ourselves to become captive to out-of-state companies or if we will stand up to them in the name of independent Alaska by demanding a fair tax for our oil.

Huge international corporations are spending tens of millions to sway our vote, but note the fine print on the bottom of the ads.

Consider the facts, as recorded by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. From 2004 to 2013, the North Slope oil and gas industry employment increased 71.9 percent, or 5,900 additional workers. From 2007 to 2011, under ACES, spending increased approximately $1.3 billion annually. Tax breaks were wisely tied to new developments.

In 2007, when ACES was enacted, the oil industry voiced its opposition, citing the need for a consistent tax structure. Today, that voice is mute as it spends tens of millions advocating change through the tax giveaway. The facts speak. The court-mandated fine for the 1989 ExxonValdez spill was $5 billion. With deep pockets and through repeated litigation, Big Oil reduced it to $507.5 million, about one-tenth of the original mandate. Then, they were reluctant to even pay the interest for those years. Facts speak.

Conoco-Philips advertises itself as “Alaska’s Oil Company.” But Alaska has no oil company. Don’t fall for the hype in the oil company ads. Weigh the facts.

SB21 passed the Senate by one vote. However, consider these facts: two senators, both of whom voted, are directly employed by the oil companies at considerable salaries. Gov. Sean Parnell worked in a lobbying capacity for the oil companies before becoming Alaska’s lieutenant govenor.

By voting “yes” on Ballot Measure 1, our state Legislature will have the opportunity to fine tune ACES, as advocated by Republican Sen. Bert Stedman of Sitka. Why abolish an oil tax system that is working for a $1 billion to $2 billion annual giveaway under SB21 without guarantees?

If this giveaway passes, the oil companies can invest their added Alaska profit anywhere in the world: Libya, Saudi Arabia, or the Gulf. Meanwhile, our schools, mental health facilities, roads and infrastructure will suffer even if a personal income tax is enacted.

Consider the facts, then step up on Aug. 19 and vote “yes” on Ballot Measure 1.

• Sen. Donald Olson is a Democrat representing Senate District T and Paul D. Beran has lived in Alaska for 21 years.

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