Compass: Alaskans need more answers before SB 21

Alaska faces a decision on one of the most important issues in our history. That issue is oil tax rates and the impact of our vote on Proposition 1. However, factual information is woefully inadequate, at least to the general public.

Will Rogers reportedly said, "All I know is what I read in the newspaper." Things haven't changed much. However, oil news we read in the newspaper is often slanted by political posturing during this election year. Or perhaps deliberately misleading.

It has been repeatedly reported that the current tax rate will cost the state approximately $2 billion a year. However, Tim Bradner said (ADN, March 10) that "we all know, for example, that at current oil prices the new tax will bring in about the same amount of revenue as the former tax known as ACES." Economist Dr. Scott Goldsmith also stated that current oil taxes would not cost the state $2 billion per year. However, on May 20 in the ADN Sen. Bill Wielechowski said, "All state documents point to less revenue and production well into the future."

He also said, "Alaskans deserve to know the truth." Amen!

If state documents are correct does that mean that Bradner and Goldsmith are wrong by about $2 billion? Why is it that supposed experts in state energy policy and finance disagree on what the state will receive annually by such a huge amount?

Perhaps Gunnar Knapp (ADN, June 26) may have shed some light on this problem. He stated that Goldsmith's conclusions are based on the assumptions he (Goldsmith) used. Does this mean that by choosing the right assumptions you come to the conclusions you favor?

Conversely, Shannyn Moore's column (ADN, May 25) and Mark Myer's Compass piece (ADN, June 19) call it a massive giveaway of public money to the financial benefit of oil companies.

Given the jumble of predictions how are voters expected to cast intelligent votes? Before we vote on Proposition 1 the public should receive a reasonable estimate of state income based on a single set of assumptions agreeable to everyone. An important question needing an answer prior is to voting is, "How does Alaska's current oil tax rate compare to other states and nations?" I submit that the public has essentially no answer to that question. Another question is, "Should Proposition 1 fail and we do not see a major increase in tax receipts how long before we face a state income tax?"

The oil industry is spending millions of dollars to defeat Proposition 1. It is safe to assume they are not spending this without expecting a long-term return on this expenditure. However, is it beneficial to the financial health of the state?

Russ Redick is a 54-year Alaska resident and a retired sport fish supervisor with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.



By RUSS REDICK