New group forms to fight repeal of oil tax cuts

Lisa Demer

A new group that includes veteran Alaska business and political leaders has organized to fight the repeal of oil tax cuts approved in this year's legislative session.

The group is targeting a ballot referendum that will ask voters to veto Senate Bill 21, which would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in oil tax revenue a year.

The new organization calls itself "Vote No on 1" and says the referendum will appear as Ballot Measure 1 on the August 2014 ballot.

It has five co-chairs including former Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom. The treasurer is Chuck Spinelli, head of Alaska's largest home builders, Spinell Homes. The campaign director is Willis Lyford, a public relations consultant who has led defeats of other ballot measures, including the big-money 2008 fight over a clean water initiative that targeted the proposed Pebble mine.

The group registered with the Alaska Public Offices Commission Oct. 11 and announced itself on Tuesday. It plans a formal kickoff later this year.

Backers of the effort said in a statement that the ballot measure "will undermine efforts to encourage new oil production, grow Alaska's economy and create jobs." Supporters of the referendum say the oil tax cuts give away Alaska's oil resources and don't guarantee any reversal of the decades-long decline in production from the North Slope.

If the new law stands, the hit to the state treasury will vary depending on the price of oil and how much oil is produced. At $100-per-barrel oil, the state will lose an estimated  $250 million to $475 million a year. At higher prices the loss is far more. Oil prices have been dropping to about $100 a barrel.

The other co-chairs of the campaign against the referendum are:

• Rick Boyles, of Anchorage, who has held leadership roles in Alaska unions for more than 20 years and now is principal officer for Teamsters Local 959;

• Linda Leary, of Anchorage who was president of the trucking company Carlile Transportations Systems and now is chair of the Alaska Railroad board;

• Leslie Wien Hajdukovich, a lifelong Fairbanks resident who has served on the Fairbanks North Star Borough school board and whose husband, Bob, is chief executive of Era Alaska.

• Bob Berto, of Ketchikan, who is president of Juneau-based Coastal Helicopters Inc. and Ketchikan-based TEMSCO Helicopters, which both offer glacier tours as well as charters.

Reach Lisa Demer at or 257-4390.


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