Has anyone noticed that coalition opposing Ballot Measure 1, the repeal of the oil tax giveaway, is starting to look a whole lot like the coalition that pushed to raid the Permanent Fund back in 1999?
1999 -- Tony Knowles was governor. As a Democrat, he took regular beatings from the Republicans who had super majorities in the legislature. As a supporter of SB 21, they love him now.
Well, I love him too. But I also know that Knowles comes by his loyalty to the oil companies genetically. His mother was a petroleum powerhouse. Oil brought him to Alaska. I appreciate what he's done in Alaska, but on this one - like on his efforts to raid the Permanent Fund in 1999 -- he's dead wrong.
Knowles and the Republicans in power back in '99 hatched a plan to ask Alaskan voters if they could raid the Permanent Fund to pay for government. A group was formed. They raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to urge us stupid Alaskans that we should raid our Permanent Fund so that Big Oil wouldn't have to pay their fair share down the road. Whereas today's millions in TV and radio ads in support of the oil tax giveaway are paid for by BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon, the big donors then were - BP, ARCO (now ConocoPhillips) and Exxon.
Other big donors to the Raid the PFD campaign included a host of the same Chamber businesses who are supporting SB 21, a smattering of unions, the Alaska Support Industry Alliance - the group that works for the oil industry which is also very active in supporting SB 21's giveaway. And a little old company named VECO.
There was UAA Professor Scott Goldsmith urging us back then that we couldn't possibly count on oil prices rising above $30 per barrel and that raising oil taxes to cover our deficit was "unrealistic."
The oil industry concocted their "No Decline After '99" slogan - making all sorts of wild promises. They produced about 1.1 million barrels in 1999. Now, about 530,000 and still plummeting.
The ragtag group trying to protect our PFD's was outspent by about 700 to 1. The result? Maybe the most lopsided vote in Alaska history.
A little more than 83 percent of Alaskans opposed the proposed government raid on the permanent fund. The remaining 17 percent sided with the "sky-is-falling" crowd.
A few months after that special election, Lisa Murkowski, then a representative in Juneau, co-sponsored a bill to do exactly what Alaskans had just resoundingly opposed in the election. Another co-sponsor was former Speaker of the House Gail Phillips. When she testified in favor of SB21, she said, "When I served in the Legislature, we were fortunate in that we had a stable tax regime and didn't have the grave issue of seriously declining oil production that you face today. At that time, we didn't have to worry about Alaska's competitive stature in the world market. We were strong and productive and competitive."
Really? With all that stability you still wanted to start spending the earnings of the Permanent Fund?
.Last week, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski came out against the repeal of SB21. Is anyone really surprised? She's taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil industry in campaign contributions since her ill-fated PFD grab attempt. Anything to keep the oil industry from paying their fair share.Here's an idea - why doesn't Sen. Murkowski focus on federal issues - like reigning in our trillions in deficits -- instead of trying run Alaska like they run Washington, D.C.
This time, instead of hundreds of thousand of dollars to fool Alaskans, the oil industry is pouring in millions. Will they succeed this time around in locking in some of the lowest oil tax rates in the world, or will Alaskans be partying like it's 1999 when we vote to protect our PFDs again?
Shannyn Moore is a radio broadcaster. You can hear her show, "The Last Word," Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. on KOAN 95.5 FM and 1080 AM AND 1480 We Act Radio in Washington, D.C., and on Netroots Radio.
By SHANNYN MOORE