JUNEAU Aug 19 Alaska voters will decide in
Tuesday's primary whether to repeal or uphold a new law that
cuts taxes on oil production and is worth up to $1 billion a
year to companies such as Conoco Phillips, BP Plc
and Exxon Mobil Corp.
If voters repeal the eight-month-old law ushered in by
Governor Sean Parnell, the state would go back to the system
implemented by Parnell's old boss Sarah Palin, who raised taxes
Parnell says the tax rollback will make Alaska more
competitive for investment and North Slope oil producers.
He calls the More Alaska Production Act crucial to the state's
long-term future because it would reverse declining output.
Opponents say Parnell's system only puts more money in the
oil companies' pockets while depleting the state's fiscal war
They call it a "giveaway," saying high oil prices could push
an extra $1 billion to oil companies and they question whether
oil output can be lifted over the long term.
A repeal would put Palin's old system in place and send the
Legislature back to the drawing board next session.
Parnell says his system has already slowed drops in output.
"The word (giveaway) troubles me because it is built on a
short-term vision, rather than long-term gain for our children
and grandchildren," Parnell, a Republican seeking a second full
term this year, told Reuters. "We've already demonstrated in the
first year that it's working."
Repeal backers got on the ballot last year with a petition
featuring 50,000 signatures shortly after Parnell signed Senate
Bill 21. They face opposition that has raised close to $15
million compared with their several hundred thousand dollars
that trickled in.
They believe Parnell's law simply enables companies to
harvest profits in Alaska and invest them elsewhere.
"Just giving away money and hoping companies don't take it
out of state, it's not smart policy," said State House Rep. Les
Gara, an Anchorage Democrat. "Parnell says 'here is a gob of
money and you can spend it anywhere you want. We just hope you
spend it here.'"
(Editing By Terry Wade and Gunna Dickson)