All the spending to keep SB 21 is an investment in Alaska's future

Rachael Petro
OPINION: Rachael Petro argues that there are tens of thousands of reasons to vote against the oil tax cut repeal - all the Alaskans who stand to gain by a robust oil industry. Pictured: Jim Cloud and Jim Jansen sign a banner in support of oil tax cuts during a rally at the Dena'ina Center in Anchorage in 2011. BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News

Proponents of the old ACES oil tax system cite families, future and Alaska as trite reasons to reject Ballot Measure 1. On behalf of my own family, and Alaska State Chamber of Commerce members and I beg to differ.

There are literally hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of reasons to reject the referendum to repeal Alaska’s new oil tax system. Those reasons are individual Alaskans - old, young and still to come.  It is about Alaska’s economic future – tomorrow, next year and 20 years from now. In this context, it makes perfect sense that oil tax repeal opponents are out-spending repeal supporters 100 to 1.

Those oil tax repeal opponents are Alaska Chamber members. From homegrown Alaska companies like Lynden and GCI, to many of our Alaska Native Corporations, to international companies -- they have put their money where their mouths are to support a no vote on Ballot Measure 1.

The Alaska Chamber represents hundreds of businesses from Ketchikan to Barrow. Each business, regardless of size, is comprised of real people with real needs and real dreams. Alaska Chamber members believe that a no vote on Ballot Measure 1 is absolutely crucial for our families, for our future, and for Alaska.

Some ACES proponents even claim that thousands of business people, specifically Chamber members across the state, have somehow been duped by the oil industry into rejecting Ballot Measure 1. At best, this is laughable.

Business people make complex and often gut-wrenching business decisions everyday to ensure their people stay employed. In doing so, they enrich our communities. They have to make these decisions correctly to stay relevant and competitive in an increasingly global marketplace.

Make no mistake, every decision affects their bottom line. But every decision also affects their ability to care for families, employ Alaskans, and contribute to our communities.

Reforming Alaska’s oil tax system to make Alaska’s vast oil reserves more attractive to investment has been an Alaska Chamber priority for five years. Why? It’s not because Alaska businesses have been strong-armed into doing so. It’s simply because it’s the right thing to do for their families, for their future, and for Alaska. Businesses understand the importance of staying competitive globally. They get it. And it’s poor rhetoric to trivialize their choices by attempting to marginalize them in the media and labeling them as dupes.

Under the ACES tax system, while the Lower 48 oil development boomed, Alaska’s production waned and then fell. First, to North Dakota and then -- and this one hurts -- falling behind California. While not a panacea to industry, the new oil tax system puts Alaska back in the competitive game. Evidence goes beyond the increased investment plans of the producers. There is an uptick in Alaska’s economy. We are starting to see growth plans, and there’s a sense of optimism.

Alaska Chamber member businesses are proudly sporting their "vote no on one" support by placing No One On One, Keep Alaska Competitive, Vote No On One signs on their business properties and supporting Alaska’s new oil tax system for their families, our future and for Alaska.

Rachael Petro serves as president and CEO of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce. The Alaska Chamber’s mission is to improve Alaska’s business climate.

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