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Chamber oil tax speech continues to resonate Parnell, Stedman trade jabs over rival tax cut proposals

Posted: March 21, 2012 - 12:02am
Gov. Sean Parnell answers questions by reporters at a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday.  Michael Penn/Juneau Empire
Michael Penn/Juneau Empire
Gov. Sean Parnell answers questions by reporters at a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday.

Gov. Sean Parnell and rivals in the Legislature continued to feud Tuesday over comments made by Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce — and the governor’s outraged reaction to them.


Parnell this week released to the press a letter to Stedman taking issue with his comments to the chamber, even comments that didn’t appear to be directed at the governor.


Tuesday, Rep. Berta Gardner called the Parnell’s letter “snarky,” but the governor repeated some of its claims in a press conference.


He also defended the public letter to Stedman.


“It was a proportional response to what he said,” Parnell said.


After Stedman’s address in to the chamber, he had to go public.


“I cannot allow only one side of the story to be published,” he said.


After House passage of Parnell’s oil tax cut bill, the Senate stopped working on that bill last year and began work on its more modest tax reduction, Senate Bill 192, this year.


Parnell’s letter likened the Senate’s touting of that bill to “a group of hens in the barnyard clucking together over a new egg that has taken more than a year to lay, the egg is shiny on the outside, and empty on the inside.”


After an Anchorage reporter asked Parnell if he was trying to shed his “Captain Zero” image with the letter to Stedman, Parnell responded that unlike the reporter’s question, his letter was not a personal attack.


Stedman said he’d had a cordial phone discussion Friday when Parnell called him to tell him the letter was coming.


He described the letter as “entertaining.”


Senate President Gary Stevens even continued with Parnell’s egg simile, noting “it’s not even Easter yet” and saying SB192 would be ready some time in April.


“It’s going to be a beautiful egg,” he said.


Parnell said that concerns he raised about the trans-Alaska pipeline system closing due to low flows shouldn’t be part of the letter.


Stedman’s chamber speech called the threats that TAPS would close without Parnell’s tax reductions “scare tactics.” Those claims were made in the House of Representatives last year, but brought up again by Parnell in his State of the State this year.


Parnell Tuesday denied he had been raising the issue.


“Sen. Stedman brought it up,” he said.


Parnell said that just because TAPS won’t close that doesn’t mean the current tax system is working, and continued to push for tax cuts significant enough to bring the state back to production of a million barrels a day.


Note: The statement from Gary Stevens was incorrectly attributed in an earlier version of this story.


• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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