Alaskans have a choice on August 19. We can retain a competitive tax structure, compete in the market for oil investment and have a vibrant long-term economic future, or we can continue to over-tax the petroleum industry, suck on the oil lollipop until it’s gone and let the future be damned.
I’m taking the long view and voting no on Ballot Measure 1.
Since Lynden delivered that first load of meat to Carrs in Fairbanks 60 years ago, our company has grown into a successful air, truck and marine transportation business. We owe it to the hard work and dedication of hundreds of current and past employees, a vibrant Alaska economy and our dedicated customers. We took the long view, priced competitively and prevailed. But how long do you suppose we would have stayed in business if our prices were substantially higher than those of our competitors?
We have learned that pricing our services competitively can be extremely painful but is essential to stay in business.
Alaska must also compete for investment or forfeit its revenue base and all of the essential services that are so important to our state.
Since oil began flowing from Prudhoe Bay in 1977, Alaska took the long view with competitive taxes until 2007 when ACES was passed. We then priced Alaska out of the market for oil industry investments that are the lifeblood of our state’s economy. That's why Alaska became the only oil-producing state in the union with declining oil production even though our oil and natural gas deposits account for almost 30 percent of the nation’s energy reserves.
The petroleum industry has allowed Alaska to grow, pay Permanent Fund dividends and fund 90 percent of state government. Alaska has prospered. I believe we will continue to prosper if we remain competitive and focus on the long term.
I began my career in Alaska as a truck driver at the Kennecott mine in 1967. The Kennecott mine is a ghost town, which taught me at an early age that even businesses that have made a huge investment in Alaska will leave.
Having lived and worked in Alaska before the pipeline, I learned that Alaska is a much better place with a strong healthy oil industry than without it. Living in this great state is the ultimate dream. I’ve learned that taking the long view, working hard and being competitive does work, in spite of many difficulties along the way.
In 2011, a group of Alaskans founded the Make Alaska Competitive Coalition, and we spent three years advocating and educating Alaskans about the importance of competitive tax reform. Last year we formed Keep Alaska Competitive, Vote No on One. This group of Alaska Native corporations, unions, individuals and businesses has a single mission: “The long term economic future of Alaska,” We are not the oil industry and we take no funding from the oil industry.
We believe that oil tax reform is an Alaska issue, not an oil company issue. Oil companies can invest anywhere in the world, wherever they can make the most money. But where do we go as Alaskans if we lose the oil industry. This is where we live, this is where we have homes, this is where we have jobs and this is where we want to stay and continue a vibrant economic future for our children and grandchildren.
I believe that oil tax reform is the most important economic issue for Alaska since the construction of the Alaska pipeline. That is why we are working so hard on this issue and why I am voting no on 1.
Jim Jansen is chairman of Lynden, an Alaska transportation company, and co-chairman of the Make Alaska Competitive Coalition and the Keep Alaska Competitive Coalition – “Vote no on 1.”
The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, e-mail commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.