As Alaskans head to the polls this Tuesday, they will be deciding the most pressing economic issue facing our state.
The question before Alaska voters is simple: Will our children and grandchildren inherit a state full of jobs and opportunity, or will we go back to the unsustainable path of economic decline?
While I initially supported Alaska’s previous oil tax structure, ACES, I never intended for ACES’ unarguable result—guaranteed decline. With ACES in place, Alaska oil production continued declining by 6 to 8 percent every year. Further, ACES’ uncompetitive structure led to Alaska losing out on investment dollars and jobs to other places like North Dakota and Texas.
We did our research and confirmed what we already knew: Alaska needed to change its oil tax structure. ACES put our children and grandchildren’s future at risk. Because I care deeply about Alaskans, I acted to change that trajectory of decline so our people would have a fighting chance at a prosperous future.
When our administration introduced Senate Bill 21, the More Alaska Production Act, we did so after consulting with independent experts about what changes would be best for Alaska’s long-term future.
Following many lengthy public hearings, and after listening to their own experts (and hearing from ours), Alaska legislators passed and I signed SB 21. Now, just over a year later, Alaskans are benefitting.
In just 15 months, Alaska has seen billions of new dollars in investment commitments, more Alaska jobs, more small businesses with year-round work, and more production.
Rather than ACES’ guaranteed production decline of between 6 to 8 percent per year, we stopped the drop in the first year under SB 21. We flattened the decline curve with new production -- no 6 to 8 percent drop this past year. And, at current oil prices, the state of Alaska is bringing in more revenue under SB 21 than under ACES.
There’s no “giveaway” -- only more production, more revenue, more jobs and more opportunity for Alaskans.
Without a doubt, these positive results hold far more promise for Alaskans’ future than ACES and its guaranteed production decline.
With SB 21, Alaska’s foundation for our future is stronger and holds more promise for us as a people.
Look around the state: Fabrication shops are scurrying to find enough shop space to keep up with all the new business, trucking companies from Fairbanks to Kenai are swamped with new work, and retail shops across the state are benefitting as more dollars are being spent in their stores.
As I’ve traveled across the state this past year, I’ve seen and heard firsthand the positive impacts of the More Alaska Production Act. With new production and investment, our kids and grandkids have a shot at a bright future here in Alaska – not in North Dakota or Texas.
Like you, I want our children and grandchildren to have a bright future here in Alaska. As you head into the voting booth on Tuesday, I urge you to think about future generations of Alaskans. Vote with your kids and grandkids in mind. Vote no on Ballot Measure 1.
Sean Parnell has served as Alaska's governor since 2009.
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, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.