Senate oil tax bill expected soon

Courtesy Gavel Alaska

State Senate President Gary Stevens says nothing is more important this legislative session than coming to agreement on oil tax legislation.

The Senate’s bi-partisan coalition is writing its own bill to counter Gov. Sean Parnell’s proposal to reduce Alaska’s oil revenue by giving producers major tax breaks. Stevens says the Senate Resources Committee version will be drafted in about a week and a half.

Fairbanks Democrat Joe Paskvan – co-chair of the committee – says the legislation will treat Alaska as an “owner state.”

“You know we are different than most other jurisdictions in the United States and we need to act like a sophisticated owner with a world class resource,” Paskvan told reporters Thursday.

While details are scarce, the bill will include a progressive surcharge and tax credits.

Senators say they’ve been discussing their approach with the Parnell administration and the promise of more oil industry jobs for Alaskans may help bridge the gap between the two sides.

Parnell’s House Bill 110 passed the House last session, but the Senate refused to move it, asking for more and better information on the need to reduce oil taxes.

A report commissioned by the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee, chaired by Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, indicates the administration exaggerated when it claimed oil industry jobs were being shipped out of Alaska to other oil-rich states.

According to the McDowell Group report, average annual employment on Alaska’s North Slope reached a 20-year high in 2010.

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