Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Another Republican Makes Sense

I hope you all got to read Bert Stedman's Compass piece in today's ADN. If not take a few minutes to read it here.

Stedman, the Alaskan state senator from Craig and a Republican, is an accountant by trade and voted against Senate Bill 21 which gives multi-billion dollar tax breaks to oil companies without requiring  them to step up production.  Stedman makes several points and that I wish that our local legislatures, Peter Miciche, Mike Chenault and Kurt Olson would have the integrity and maybe the balls to respond to in detail.  Don't count on it.  Chenault and Olson have proven over and over again that the concept of integrity doesn't apply to them.  Micciche, a Conoco/Phillips manager, doesn't seem to know what the word means.

Questions that Senator Stedman has:
1) Why is the AK Dep't of Revenue's prediction of oil production in legacy fields twice the rate established by the major oil companies?
2) Why has the progressive tax rate been eliminated?  Alaskans own the oil, and progressive taxes are the compensation for the value of the oil at international rates. Otherwise we are selling our oil for 1990 prices.  That is insane! The progressive tax is just the way we Alaskans charge the market rate for oil coming out of the ground.
3) What drastic cuts are those who voted for the bill proposing to make up the monetary shortfall the state will now experience? Come on, let us know what you will fund (Knik Arm Bridge? Susitna Dam? Roads to Resources? Two gas pipelines?) and which you will cut (Education? Health Care? Rural energy? Mental health programs? Unfunded liability to state retirement systems?)

It's good that there are a few republicans left that ask honest questions and expect honest answers before selling out Alaska.  It's too bad that none of our local legislatures aren't that honest.

I have three additional questions:
Why not have the amendment that would revert that tax structure back to ACES if the oil companies didn't step up production?  If the goal is to step up production, why not make it mandatory?

If oil did drop to $40 a barrel as Kurt Olson mentioned at the recent town hall meeting in SOLdotna, how much more production would be needed to have the same amount of revenue come to the state as we are now getting and should we expect that much extra production with the new bill?

Why has Gov Parnell not allowed the experts he has hired to look into the tax law to testify to the legislature and why haven't the three oil-company stooges we have representing us demanded that information?

Well, Micciche, Chenault and Olson, got any honest answers?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Micciche: Doing Something Stupid in Juneau

To nobody's surprise, the Alaska senate passed the massive tax break bill for the major oil companies.  The vote that will give these companies billions of dollars of extra profits was predictable.  All seven of the Democrats voted no along with two Republicans, Stedman and Stevens.  The remaining 11 Republicans voted in favor of the give-away, including two ConocoPhillips managers that serve on the Senate, Keven Meyer and SOLdotna's own Peter Micciche.  In most places on the planet, Meyer and Micciche wouldn't be allowed to vote because of conflict of interest, but Alaska law is very lax about that.  While both men declared that they did have that conflict, all it took was the objection of their fellow Republicans to override the declaration.  The best government money can buy.

When asked about restructuring oil taxes, Peter said last month, “I think we have enough votes to do something stupid. My job is to make sure we don’t,” he said. “If it’s fair and protects Alaskans, I’m likely to be for it. If it goes the governor’s way, I probably won’t.”  Well, basically the bill isn't fair and it doesn't protect Alaskans, but it does pad the already record profits of oil companies.  Stunningly, there is no requirement of any extra production from the oil companies.  That is simply stupid.  But what can you expect from people who get their paychecks from the folks that will gain the most from this legislation?

Micciche was able to get his amendment passed that kept the base rate at 35% rather than the 33% the finance committee recommended, but that 'compromise' does little more than placate his ego that he is the great compromiser.

The vote was also 11-9 opposed to Steven's amendment that would have sun-setted the new law if the oil companies didn't step up production.  There's the moment of truth.  If the bill is supposed to stimulate production according to the R's who supported it, why not make sure that it does?  By voting against Steven's amendment, there is no question that this bill is a sham and designed only to give away the resources that each and every one of us in Alaska owns.

Micciche has stated that no one can explain why a progressive tax is any good.  Well Pete, it's called capitalism: supply and demand.  What business would sell their product for a low price when they could easily get a whole lot more for it?

Well, it is what it is.  Next up it will be curious to see how the senate and our own former mayor will vote on spending bills.  How much will they spend on the Susitna Dam, the two gas pipelines, the Knik Arm Bridge, the Port of Anchorage, public funding of private schools and other such boondoggles being proposed?  Let's face it we're SOL n Alaska these days.

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