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Parnell, Treadwell Share Vision: Lower Taxes, Fighting Feds

Energy, oil taxes take center stage at Chamber Debate

Fairbanks, AK – Governor Sean Parnell and Mead Treadwell today met with challengers Ethan Berkowitz and Diane Benson in an hour and a half debate hosted by the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce. As with other debates, oil taxes and natural gas pipeline construction drew the most lively back-and-forth of today’s event, with Parnell highlighting his efforts to fight the federal government for more access to Alaska’s resources and giving the audience a look at the tax changes he’s looking to make in the upcoming legislative session.

On oil taxes, Parnell and Treadwell said Alaska can be more competitive in attracting the level of global investment it needs to keep the Trans Alaska Pipeline flowing. Parnell said that in addition to re-offering tax credits for drilling North Slope oil fields, he is open to revising the Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share Act (ACES) by changing the progressive nature of Alaska oil taxes.

A previous approach, which resulted in the federal government, the state government, and Alaska’s oil producers taking “a third, a third, a third” of revenues may be a workable approach, the governor added.

He criticized the Berkowitz-Benson approach to negotiating new royalties for every field as, “half-baked,” which would result in a chilling effect on new exploration.

Parnell also highlighted his continued fight against federal intervention in Alaska. “You have a team that’s willing to stand up to the federal government, not capitulate or collaborate with them,” Parnell said of his ticket in response to a question on how to best address declining oil production and meet Alaska’s needs.

Questions on energy issues closely followed the candidates’ opening remarks, during which Mead Treadwell highlighted the Parnell-Treadwell campaign’s effort to make Alaska a more attractive place to do business. “If there’s one word you can take to the bank about a Parnell-Treadwell administration and Alaska, it’s ‘competitive,” Treadwell said.

Early in the debate, candidates were asked about their plans for the Alaska Military Force Advocacy and Structure Team. “I believe in our military and our military families,” said Parnell, who also noted the military’s important contribution to Alaska’s economy, discussed his work to create the team, and shared its successes.

Governor Parnell also took the opportunity to criticize Ethan Berkowitz for his lack of support for Governor Parnell’s effort to stand up for Alaska against the federal government. Berkowitz responded that he supports the governor’s lawsuit over federal health reform, a statement that drew heat from Parnell, who recalled Ethan’s support for “ObamaCare” to begin with. He also said that Berkowitz had been photographed stumping for the program.

“What kind of a future are we going to build here?” Governor Parnell asked the audience during his closing remarks, in which recalled the state constitution’s signing some 50 years ago and the “promise of Alaska” that came with the signing of that constitution. The governor finished by summarizing his tax cuts, Alaska Performance Scholarships plan, and his effort to end Alaska’s epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault. “It’s about a governor who walks a mile in your shoes with you,” Parnell said. 

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