Nearly all Alaskans have a common problem. They want more money for an increased Alaska Permanent Fund dividend or they want more money for maintaining vital Alaska services. However, there is no recurring source of revenue from which to get the money. There is not even recurring money to pay for the reduced services and a smaller PFD, leaving a deficit. The $14 billion savings account generated under the previous oil tax system has almost all been spent.
The direct cause of this problem is the Senate Bill 21 oil tax and credit system that was passed in 2013. Constantly living from your savings account has been a bad idea. Each year there have been attempts to reform the system, but there has always been some critical legislative position that blocked almost all correction. It seems there was philosophical alignment more to the oil corporation’s bottom line than to the State’s bottom line.
Our Alaska Constitution provides for this situation by allowing the voters to pass a critical law when the Legislature fails to address the important issue. The Alaska Fair Share Act is now out for signatures to place it on the ballot in 2020. It needs 29,000 qualified voters to agree that giving away billions to the most profitable corporations in the world makes no sense when we must take it from hard-working Alaskans in the form of a reduced PFD or reduced vital services.
Alaskans barely declined to veto SB21 in 2014 by referendum, mainly because people wanted to give the idea of reduced oil taxes and increased credits a chance to fulfill the promises of more jobs and more production — remember that was the title of SB21, the More Production Act (?). However, five years has demonstrated the falseness of those million barrels a day and more jobs claims. Between 2014 and 2018 the oil patch lost 5,465 jobs and production declined. The only thing that came true was that Alaska lost so much tax revenue that when the tax credit liability was applied in 2015, 2016, and 2017 Alaska got less than zero production tax. The proof is in the pudding — we need reform and only Alaska voters have the courage to make the change.
I hope you will put the Fair Share Act on the ballot by signing the petition. Petitions are out now, and we hope to have 29,000 signatures by mid-December. Yes, the oil companies and their surrogates will spend millions trying to convince you to take a smaller or no PFD and cut vital services like senior citizens, education and road maintenance to inflate their bottom line even more, but that will be your choice if Alaska’s Fair Share is on the ballot.
We have an office at 3756 Lake St. in Homer, open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m., six days a week. Join us for a family-friendly open house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16 .
Paul Seaton and his wife are owners of a commercial fishing business and residents of Kachemak City. He was a representative in the Alaska House for 16 years where he served as co-chair of the Resources Committee and co-chair of the Finance Committee.