Fair Share?

The bunch behind a drive to stick it to North Slope oil producers is suing the state, claiming officials did not provide a “true and impartial” summary of the ballot proposal it is trying to get onto the ballot.

Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share sued in Anchorage Superior Court a few days ago, naming the Division of Elections and Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer as defendants. Meyer certified the ballot measure and allowed signature-gathering to begin in the drive to put the question on the 2020 election ballot.

Backers claim there were “inaccuracies” in how the proposed law was characterized in the official summary that appears on the front page of the signature books.

We agree that such summaries should be true and impartial to allow Alaskans to make a proper decision at the ballot box. In this case, the first thing that should be corrected is the proposed act’s name.

The so-called Fair Share Act is misleading in a variety of ways. First, the industry already is giving Alaska its fair share. Second, the title obscures the act’s true purpose: to jack up production taxes on so-called legacy fields to wring another billion dollars or so from North Slope companies to hand to government.

In truth, the act’s title should be something like, “Alaska Job-Killer Act,” or, how about, “Economy Buster Act.”

It is sad this group of people wants Alaskans to ignore or forget what happens when the state gets greedy. Their latest effort is only the latest chapter in the anti-industry crowd’s endless effort to punish the industry it loves to hate. Unfortunately, this latest drive is every bit as dumb as Sarah Palin’s Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share oil tax – and just as destructive.

ACES, in pursuing more oil dollars for government, was incredibly aggressive. It contributed to a 90 percent marginal tax rate at higher oil prices and was among the highest oil production tax rates in the world at the time. ACES was good for government coffers; not so good for ordinary Alaskans.

What did the industry do? It did what anybody would do: It shifted billions in investments to other oil provinces with more sensible tax regimes. The result? Alaska stagnated as other oil provinces around the world boomed.

To underscore the point, there was less oil production in each and every year the punitive and confiscatory ACES tax was in effect in Alaska. Oil field jobs were lost. The lack of investment spread to industry support companies and then into the economy.

What happened then most certainly would happen today. The industry simply would shift its investments somewhere else and Alaska would languish economically at a time when increased production is desperately needed.

The euphemistically named Fair Share Act may, indeed, be fair to those who believe what we need is larger government. It certainly is not fair to Alaskans.

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