Legislative Priorities and Legislative Action
Never the twain shall meet?
This legislative session in Juneau is all about money and the state’s wallet, or it should be. Just as a reminder: Revenue is In and the Budget is Out. So far, not much legislative action has been taken that would create a balanced or sustainable budget. We’ve shared top legislative priorities from leading advocacy groups as well as the long list of bills and resolutions filed through the end of January (page 8).
The priorities of the Alaska business community are pretty clear about what needs to be done—what isn’t clear is any correlation between legislative action so far and the priorities. To borrow from Rudyard Kipling’s The Ballad of East and West, “Oh East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” Is this the fate of Alaska’s priorities and actions? Not listed in the long list of bills filed is House Bill 111, filed hours before going to press on February 8. It is rather long and obtuse, obstinate, and awful. Alaska business and industry leaders voiced immediate outcry.
“HB 111 is yet another change to oil and gas taxes in a series of changes that creates uncertainty for national and global investors. … Businesses cannot thrive in an uncertain environment where tax policies continually change … While there is little we can do about the volatile nature of oil prices, we can control and maintain stable policies. Making and keeping Alaska competitive nationally and globally is critical to Alaska’s long-term sustainability.”
—Curtis Thayer, President & CEO, Alaska Chamber
“Today’s bill, if passed, would represent the seventh oil tax law change in twelve years. Combine that reality with the governor’s repeated vetoes of the earned tax credits, and Alaska looks like an unreliable, unstable, and unpredictable business partner. … We encourage committee members to view this bill through the lens of what will benefit the State the most in the long run: more oil production, more investment in Alaska’s oil fields, and more economic activity throughout the state. HB 111, as written, will not achieve any of those things and jeopardizes recent gains like the first oil production increase in fourteen years, billions of dollars of new investment in Alaska’s oil patch, and optimism about exciting new oil fields with billions of barrels of potential.”
—Kara Moriarty, President & CEO, Alaska Oil and Gas Association
We couldn’t agree more with Thayer and Moriarty. We challenge the Alaska Legislature to stop wasting time and get down to business.
—Susan Harrington, MManaging Editor
This article first appeared in the March 2017 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly.