This week, petitioners with thin blue-covered books have fanned out across the city of Kodiak, gathering signatures. They’ve been joined by others in Alaska with a simple goal: overturn Senate Bill 21, which cuts oil production and transportation taxes.
Gov. Sean Parnell, who has promoted the bill for the past two years, has said the tax cut is necessary to keep Alaska competitive on global markets. The flow of oil through the trans-Alaska Pipeline has plummeted in recent years.
Something is needed to spur production and oil output, Parnell has said.
Opponents say SB21 doesn’t guarantee the desired result. It requires no pledge from the oil companies to increase production, they say, making the tax cut Alaska’s largest giveaway.
If opponents get 30,000 signatures in their little blue books by July, Alaskans will have a chance to vote on the bill in a statewide referendum.
While we don’t agree with all of their claims, we agree with petitioners who want to put the oil tax cut on next fall’s ballot.
In a speech to the Kodiak Noon Rotary on Tuesday, Sen. Gary Stevens called SB21 “the biggest tax change in the history of Alaska.” We feel it’s only right to give Alaskans a chance to vote on that change.
SB21 passed the Alaska Senate this spring by an 11-9 margin. Had only one senator changed his or her vote, the bill would have failed. That narrow vote came after more than two years of intense discussion and debate.
On such a closely divided issue and one that has massive implications to the state, we feel all Alaskans should have a voice.