An influential Alaska Native corporation has joined the list of critics of a proposal from Gov. Michael Dunleavy that would strip some of the taxing power of cities and boroughs.
The legislation would deprive the North Slope Borough of a major revenue source: property taxes on oil and gas infrastructure. Wednesday, the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, or ASRC, joined the borough in a joint statement that called the bill “an attack on communities across the region.”
In a written statement, ASRC president and CEO Rex Rock Sr. said: “Trying to balance a state budget on the backs of the Iñupiat people across the Arctic Slope is a wrongsided attack on our region.”
The criticism is noteworthy because it comes from one of the governor’s allies: ASRC endorsed Dunleavy back in October, citing, among other things, his enthusiasm for oil and gas development.
The joint press release yesterday also included a statement from North Slope Borough Mayor Harry Brower Jr.
“For decades, we have supported safe and responsible natural resource development on the Arctic Slope because of the economic benefits the industry brings to our communities,” said Brower. “As written, Senate Bill 57 makes us question that support. Is this what the governor is intending to do with this legislation – pit the Iñupiaq people of the Slope against industry?”
The governor’s plan would cost the North Slope Borough nearly $400 million in property tax revenue.
Before it can take effect, though, it would have to be approved by the Alaska Legislature. House Speaker Bryce Edgmon gave Dunleavy’s House version of the bill a cool reception yesterday by sending it to three different committees for vetting — often a step that the speaker takes to delay or derail legislation.
—Nathaniel Herz contributed reporting from Anchorage.