Repeal: For it? Against it?
Some Democrats are having a problem declaring where they stand on repealing long-overdue reform of an Alaska oil tax that stymied investment for new oil on the North Slope and helped cause lagging production that is costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
Sen. Mark Begich, running for re-election next year, has yet to declare where he stands on the wrong-headed repeal effort drummed up by the Left after the Legislature earlier this year adopted Gov. Sean Parnell’s Senate Bill 21 to fix the most onerous provisions of Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share oil tax.
Add to the list of balky Democrats Byron Mallott, who his week announced his candidacy for the governor’s job next year.
An Associated Press story about Mallott’s announcment had this to say about his position on SB 21:
“He did not say whether he supported the oil tax overhaul championed by Parnell that passed during the last legislative session but said the immediate launch of a referendum showed him that ‘Alaskans are troubled.’ He said he wants to talk to Alaskans about the law and its impact, as well as how best to try to diversify the state’s economy.”
How about that for taking a stand? He may have a problem staying in the middle of the road, though. His avowed running mate, Anchorage state Sen. Hollis French, a Democrat a tax-and-spend guy who announced for lieutenant governor today, is a rabid booster of SB 21′s repeal, which would return ACES to full effect.
It should be noted that Republican candidates do not seem to have a problem opposing the repeal. Former Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan announced his candidacy for Begich’s seat this week. He is squarely against the repeal. Former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who announced earlier he would be running for the seat, as well, also is opposed.
Some Democrats do get it. Two former Democratic governors – Bill Sheffield and Tony Knowles – who know and understand the effects of ACES have announced they oppose the repeal effort.
ACES, adopted in 2007 by a timid Legislature at the behest of then-Gov. Sarah Palin, was anathema to a healthy economy. It promoted over-taxing the North Slope oil industry to the tune of up to $2 billion a year. Its provisions contributed to a marginal tax rate of something like 90 percent at higher oil prices. Investment dollars, as you can imagine, went elsewhere.
Those who embrace the idea of taxing to the hilt and spending as if there were no tomorrow loved ACES and yearn for its return. It produced government surpluses and $3 billion capital budgets. It meant government never had to say ‘no.’ The problem? All that is unsustainable.
Democrats may find their pals on the left have dealt them a lousy hand with the repeal referendum, but that does not mean we should stop asking where they stand of this very important issue – no matter how uncomfortable it makes them.