Morning Headlamp — Senate Minority attacks private sector that is in recession – yet remains silent while one of their own bilks the state

Storms a brewing. The bill addressing North Slope oil and gas tax credits is expected to surface next month in the House Resources Committee and has a contentious history in AK’s legislature. In 2016, the Legislature passed reforms to the tax credit system by a single vote in the House, but the victory was a hollow one for those who hoped it would lead to a compromise on Alaska’s $3 billion budget deficit.

While the House has changed significantly since last year, the Senate hasn’t, and any proposal to alter the credits will face a challenge. The new House Minority has said that preserving the existing tax credit program is a priority. “It’s true that the other body has not changed significantly…However, I think that we need to re-hear these arguments about stability and see whether the Senate has changed its position,” said Rep. Andy Josephson.

Josephson believes that with proper reforms, Walker might be convinced to put down his veto pen, something the Senate — judging by previous actions — wants. “That may sway some folks, and maybe some compromise could be reached to fund more than the governor otherwise would,” Josephson said.

A plan from the Senate Minority for addressing Alaska’s deficit calls for reworking state oil tax policy and implementing broad-based taxes before moving to the potential use of earnings from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund. They propose tackling oil taxes before taking up a broad-based tax, like an income tax. Use of Alaska Permanent Fund earnings for state government would be the last item for debate.

Headlamp sees the Senate Minority trying the same trick they try every year – refusing to reduce the size and scope of government, dangling oil taxes and tax credits as the answer to the budget gap for a good sound bite, and avoiding any hard work that truly makes difference. Perhaps the Senate Minority should do something about one of their members bilking the state for thousands of dollars in shipping costs to show they really are concerned about efficient government. 

The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission proposed posting fracking applications on its website, although companies would have the opportunity to redact information deemed confidential. The proposal falls in between what environmental groups and the industry say is sufficient opportunity for public input before a well can be fracked in Alaska.


First Reads

House readies bill to address unpaid oil tax credits
Alaska Journal of Commerce, James Brooks, January 25, 2017

New oil escort tugs get poor review at citizens’ council
Alaska Journal of Commerce, Elwood Brehmer, January 25, 2017

State Agency Considers Public Notice On Fracking Applications
KBBI, Elizabeth Harball, January 25, 2017

Alaska Senate Democrats pitch budget plan
Fairbanks Daily News Miner,  January 25, 2017

Division widens between Alaska House, Senate on reducing 2017 PFD checks
KTVA, Liz Raines, January 25, 2017

Trump Team Compiles Infrastructure Priority List
Transport Topics, January 25, 2017