Lawmakers confused over oil tax numbers

Governor, Dems battle against House version of tax plan

Posted: Thursday, November 01, 2007

ANCHORAGE - Lawmakers this week said there is confusion in Juneau over the numbers behind an oil tax plan that's moving through the state House.

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The plan passed the House Oil and Gas committee after being presented as bringing in more money to the state than it really would, said Rep. Mike Doogan, D-Anchorage.

"I feel like I was misled, and I'm not happy about it," Doogan said.

Republicans who run the committee said the bill was passed while relying on numbers from consultants rather than the normal state financial analysis.

House Oil and Gas Committee Chairman Kurt Olson, R-Soldotna, said there was no intent to mislead and that the plan will change as it goes through more committees.

Gov. Sarah Palin's administration and Democratic legislators are battling back against the House version of the oil tax plan.

State Revenue Commissioner Pat Galvin said the House plan does not guarantee the state receives a fair share and removes provisions in the plan touted by Palin that protects the state when oil prices are low.

A new state Department of Revenue analysis of the House bill shows that it wouldn't start bringing in more money than Palin's bill until 2013 if oil prices average $80 a barrel.

The House bill would bring in much less money at low oil prices than the governor's plan, but is still projected to bring in more tax money than the state's existing tax system.

Palin called the Legislature into special session this month to consider revising the oil tax passed last year under former Gov. Frank Murkowski. Palin has said the current tax is tainted by politicians investigated in a federal corruption probe and was bringing in less revenue than projected.

Rep. Ralph Samuels, R-Anchorage, said he supports the House oil tax plan and said it's intended to capture the windfall profits of oil companies.

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