Rep. Kohring misses Backes' point

Posted: Thursday, April 13, 2006

Rep. Kohring's response ("Against taxes on philosophical grounds," March 31) to an opinion piece by Lori Backes ("Oil invests big in AK politics," March 22) apparently missed the point. Did he forget who he works for?

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Mr. Kohring mentions our founding fathers, and well that he did so. They should be respected and their wisdom followed.

During statehood discussions, Congress understood that, "If Alaska is to be given the duties and responsibilities of statehood, she must also be given a visible means of support." So they transferred "tremendous acreage containing valuable resources needed by the new state to develop flourishing industries with which to support itself and its people."

In case he forgot, our founding fathers specifically crafted language into our Alaska Constitution to fulfill that goal: "It is the policy of the state to encourage ... development of its resources by making them available for maximum use consistent with the public purpose" (Article 8, Sec. 1). "The Legislature shall provide for the ... development ... of all natural resources belonging to the state ... for the maximum benefit of its people" (Article 8, Sec. 2).

Mr. Kohring's opposition to raising taxes on oil companies, despite expert testimony to the opposite, must mean he is absolutely certain we are currently deriving "maximum benefit" and "making them available for maximum use." Are we?

In spite of overwhelming and expert testimony, is he saying "Don't confuse me with the facts; my mind is made up?"

Mr. Kohring says he knows who he works for. I'm just not sure it's us. Mr. Kohring has sworn an oath to uphold the Alaska Constitution and work for "the maximum benefit of its people." I would hope our legislators won't be grandstanding behind the "no taxes" banner, while selling my children and grandchildren down the river.

As fuel prices rise and Big Oil reports billions in profits, I'll think about the legislators who didn't want to tax the poor darlings, or support an All-Alaska gas line. I'm sure that'll keep me warm while I'm paying $6 per gallon for fuel oil at 40-below, knowing Alaska's natural gas is going to Canada.

Steve Hovenden


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