The Vote Yes on 1 crowd wants us to believe that this initiative is a fight between the oil industry and Alaskans. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Ballot Measure 1 is a vicious and dangerous attack on Alaska’s economy, on our way of life and our economic future. The oil industry can invest its capital anywhere in the world and they will if we drive them away with uncompetitive oil taxes. But where do we go? This is where we live, where we have our jobs, our homes and where we plan a future for our kids and grandkids. Where do we go when we drive away investment and oil production declines?
This is clearly an Alaska fight, not an oil company battle.
We are co-chairs of KEEP Alaska Competitive, a 5,000-member group of Alaska businesses, labor unions, Native corporations and individual Alaskans who understand that competitive taxes on our resource industries are essential to our future economy, our jobs and our PFD. We are not the oil industry and we take no funding from the oil industry. We are a grassroots organization that provides information to Alaskans about the importance of investment, jobs and oil production. We work very hard to secure an economic future for our employees, neighbors, children and grandchildren.
The oil industry has paid about $3 billion per year in taxes and royalties to Alaska in each of the past two years. They have plans to substantially increase investment on the North Slope in the future that will provide jobs and increase production substantially “if” we don’t screw it up with a major increase in oil taxes.
Alaska is a high-cost place to operate, especially on the North Slope. Our oil needs to move through an expensive 800-mile pipeline, then by ship to the West Coast. Other oil provinces have much lower costs of production and transportation.
Alaska already has the highest government take of all the states at low oil prices and among the highest tax rates in the world. Increasing taxes by $1 billion per year will make Alaska uncompetitive and will reduce or eliminate new investment in our state.
Other industries, like seafood, mining tourism and the thousands of small service companies, are watching this attack on the oil industry and asking: “are we next?” Why should we invest here? Why would anyone invest in a state under attack by people who want to kill our businesses?
Without new investment, production will decline, jobs will disappear, state revenues will shrink and PFDs will be a thing of the past.
The coronavirus has turned the world upside down. There are 40,000 fewer jobs in Alaska today than there were one year ago. Alaska is one of the top five states most negatively impacted by COVID-19. There are 33% fewer businesses in Alaska than there were in January 2020. Oil prices are extremely low and are forecast to remain low. Why would we want to further damage our economy and kick our major industry when it is down? This is the wrong time to raise taxes on any industry, including the oil industry.
Please go to our website, KeepAlaskaCompetitive.com, and study the impact of the ballot initiative and vote no on Ballot Measure 1 on Nov. 3. Alaska’s future depends on it.
Joe Schierhorn is the chairman and CEO of Northrim Bank and co-chairman of the KEEP Alaska Competitive Coalition. Jim Jansen is the chairman of the Lynden Companies and co-chairman of the KEEP Alaska Competitive Coalition.
• By Joe Schierhorn and Jim Jansen