Alaska Democrats Introduce Bills Addressing Oil Tax Concerns

Democrats in the legislature’s minority haven’t offered a counter proposal, but they have introduced bills that handle some of their concerns about oil tax reform in a piecemeal fashion.

One item would require oil companies to provide detailed information on how much they’re spending on their leases. Another bill would require the state to look at how much business a tax credit is actually bringing the state.

Reviews of tax credits would occur after they’ve been in place for seven years. According to a report done by the New York Times in December, Alaska spends over $700 million on tax incentive programs each year.

Senator Bill Wielechowski is the bill’s sponsor.

“We have no idea whether they’re working, we have no idea what they’re going for,” Wielechowski said. “The administration has testified that we just don’t know whether they’re working or not.”

That bill would apply not just to oil tax credit, but subsidies to the mining, construction, and film industries.

Wielechowski also still thinks there may be some skepticism toward the governor’s oil tax reform program in the Senate, even with a new solidly Republican majority.

“I know that everyone’s saying there’s a drastic change in the structure, and there is certainly is in the structure of the majority, but what people need to remember is you still need 11 votes,” Wielechowski said. “And when you look at the votes that are out there, I’m not sure there’s 11 votes to make a radical change like the governor is proposing on ACES.”

“I’m just not sure there’s 11 votes there to do that.”

A 16-person coalition of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate blocked the governor’s oil tax proposal last year. That coalition was effectively broken up after six members of that coalition lost their seats last election.

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