It seems lots of heavy hitters want to take one more run at persuading our legislators to tap our Alaska Permanent Fund (Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska needs a fiscal plan before dividend dependence gets worse"; Voice of the Times, "time for a fiscal plan ... take some percentage of the $36.9 billion permanent fund").
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For those with short memories, when Ben Stevens sponsored legislation proposing to tap the fund, he was president of the Senate and heir apparent to his father's seat in the U.S. Senate.
I'll get off the Legislature's back when three things happen:
1. Every Alaskan is guaranteed not less than a $2,000 annual dividend.
2. The Legislature requires BP, Exxon and ConocoPhillips to pay Alaskans a combination of taxes and royalties equal to what other oil producing countries require them to pay for the right to produce similar-quality oil produced at similar costs of production.
3. The permanent fund grows to $100 billion, which by my calculation, is about the point at which the fund will spin off enough earnings to:
a. Replace the state's current level of income when the oil runs out.
b. Restore revenue sharing to every city, town and village in Alaska.
c. Pay every man, woman and child an annual dividend of not less than $2,000.
Tapping the fund at this time would have the effect of reducing pressure for our Legislature to extract a fair price for our oil from those who produce it.
Recently passed legislation providing for the funding of government (the 22.5 percent petroleum production tax, a.k.a. the PPT), was pushed through by Stevens and Veco.
The legislation fell between $1.5 and $2 billion short of what BP, Exxon and ConocoPhillips are already willingly paying other countries for the right to produce, refine and sell their oil.
Stevens, and a few other legislators, are now the subject of an FBI investigation over their relationship with Veco and, among other things, their involvement in Veco's successful effort in securing the votes to pass the corporation's preferred tax package.
If past influences and future objectives of Veco and the "Corrupt Bastards Club" aren't brought to an end, corrupt legislators will spend the last dime of our permanent fund about the same time their friends at BP, Exxon and ConocoPhillips suck the last barrel of oil out of the ground and leave.
If we let them, the producers will take everything we have and leave Alaska as the poorest state in the nation.
If we're lucky, the eventual prosecution of legislators who have broken the law will have the effect of making the remaining lawmakers, who were taking Veco's money and voting for Veco's bills, rethink their position on oil taxes.
It is true that we may soon have a problem budgeting for needed public services if we don't act. Nevertheless, for 20 years, more than enough money to solve past and future budget problems has been inappropriately leaving Alaska, in the form of excessive profits to oil companies that willingly pay much higher taxes for the same in many other oil producing countries.
If in the near future, the FBI investigations will demonstrate that those pushing our recently passed 22.5 percent petroleum production tax wouldn't have had the votes to pass it without the use of bribes. Isn't it then the obligation of those pounding the ethics drum today to take a second look at how we tax oil?
My bottom line is this: As I did with Stevens, I will initiate a background investigation and a petition seeking the removal from office of any legislator who repeats Stevens' attempt to solve Alaska's future budget problems on the backs of Alaska's residents before Alaska's taxes on oil match what BP, Exxon and ConocoPhillips are already willingly paying to other oil producing countries.
Ray Metcalfe is chairman of the Republican Moderate Party and an Anchorage resident.