Southeast Native leader opposes oil tax cuts

Tlingit-Haida Central Council President Ed Thomas.

A key Southeast Native leader is asking the Legislature to not lower oil taxes.

Tlingit-Haida Central Council President Ed Thomas says Alaska needs the revenue. He also says oil companies are already making huge profits.

“If there’s no incentive for them to get more oil under those conditions, I really don’t think a few dollars of taxes taken away from our education programs or rural energy programs is going to make a difference,” he says.

The Central Council is a regional tribal organization representing more than 28,000 Tlingit and Haida Indians in and outside Alaska. It runs health, job-training, business, public safety and other programs.

Governor Sean Parnell says lowering taxes would promote new development needed to keep oil revenues coming. The House has passed such a measure, but the Senate wants a different plan.

Thomas says even talking about tax cuts is a bad idea.

“If the oil companies are going to keep getting promised that they are going to get cutbacks in taxes, they’re not going to drill. You know that and I know that. Because they’re waiting for the better deal. They can afford to wait because they have barrels of money already,” he says.

Thomas spoke at Wednesday’s Native Issues Forum in Juneau. His comments followed statements from House Speaker Mike Chenault and Representative Reggie Joule.

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