The Resource Committee introduced an oil tax committee substitute for SB21 that has Rep. Paul Seaton concerned about loss of revenue sharing and future deficits.
“I am concerned that the CS specifies the Corporate Income Tax (CIT) as the source for Community Revenue Sharing in section 2, yet in section 3 it eliminates almost all of the oil and gas service sector CIT,” Seaton wrote in his weekly address. “This is done through a $10 million per company per year credit for almost anything done in the state that is considered manufacturing or modification of oil or gas property.”
This also means that the effect on the state is greater at low revenue, which is what the administration was trying to get away from by eliminating capital credits. It creates a bigger liability at low prices.
Another big change was to the $5 per barrel credit to increase the credit up to $8 when gross wellhead value falls below $90 per barrel (which equals the ANS west coast price of $100).
“That means at $80, it is like a 10 percent exclusion from taxable revenue for ‘old oil’. I await the presentation, but this would seem to amplify the risk at lower prices to the state by ensuring untaxed profit when the state is in the worst position to absorb the loss,” Seaton said.
Resources continues its work on the bill this week. Seaton said he wants to look at the revised exploration incentive credits for south of the North Slope. “Again, it seems counter to the governor’s professed concern about high State liability at low prices to allow expansion of these tax credits to 75 percent of the total investment.” The bill is expected to pass out of Resources into the Finance Committee before a floor vote. It likely will not be voted on this week in the House.
Gov. Sean Parnell signed House Bill 67, legislation establishing March 29 of each year as Vietnam Veterans Day.
“Although Vietnam veterans were treated shamefully when they returned, these fine veterans became champions for the cause of all veterans, so that no other warrior would have to experience what they did,” Parnell said. “They’ve been a major force in creating services and support for veterans and their families. These veterans are finally starting to get the recognition and honor they are due.”
HB 67 was sponsored by Rep. Steve Thompson, Co-Chair Veterans Caucus. A companion bill was sponsored by Sen. Peter Micciche in the Senate.
One of the biggest teaching organizations in the state came out fighting last week after comments by a senator claimed Alaskans overwhelmingly support the school voucher idea proposed in a bill under debate.
Sen. Mike Dunleavy sent out a press release March 27 titled, “Majority of Alaskans Support School Choice Amendment.” It referred to a Dittman Research poll conducted earlier this month. National Education Association-Alaska objected to the inaccuracy of the poll and Dunleavy’s press release.
“The Dittman poll is a push poll at best. The wording of the questions leads the respondent to the answer desired, making the results less than objective,”
NEA-Alaska President Ron Fuhrer said. One question asked: “Student graduation and test scores in Alaska consistently rank among the lowest in the nation, despite significant increases in overall state funding for education during the past decade.
“Given that fact, in your opinion should the state insist on demonstrated student performance improvements in our schools before increasing the state K through 12 education funding formula, or should student performance not be used to determine education funding?”
The question led Alaskans to believe something that isn’t true, he said. Alaska’s graduation rates have increased by 10 percent over the last decade, three times faster than the national average. Alaska’s 2012 graduation rate was 72 percent, just slightly under the national average of 75.5 percent. In addition, the question only uses one set of test data. While 4th grade NAEP test scores are low, by 8th grade Alaska students’ test scores are at the national average. When measuring growth between 4th grade and 8th grade, Alaska ranks 3rd in the country.
Dunleavy’s press release said the poll asked 800 Alaskans whether parents should be allowed to choose where to send their child to school and whether allowing a portion of the public funds to follow the child would create a healthy competition and improve Alaska’s schools overall. Some 61-percent of respondents said ‘yes.’
“Furthermore, an overwhelming 84 percent of those people said they would support amending Alaska’s constitution to allow a school choice program in Alaska,” Dunleavy said.
But NEA-Alaska contends Dunleavy’s interpretation of the data is negligent. The figures cited in the Dittman poll reflect the opinion of only 400 respondents. When the split sample questions are added together, the result is 53.7 percent of the 800 respondents would support amending the Alaska constitution. However, when the margin of error is taken into account, the percentage of Alaskans who support changing the constitution could be as low as 50.3 percent, according to Dittman’s poll.
“I have listened to the majority of the testimony on HJR1 and SJR9,” Fuhrer said. “Overwhelmingly Alaskans have said they are not interested in changing the constitution, which would allow public monies to be diverted from public schools. Providing misleading information to the public hurts our students.”
Legislation like SJR9, vouchers and tax credits erode educational opportunities for the majority of students – 94 percent – in the state who attend public schools, he said.
The hot topic for Alaska’s Congressional delegation last week was their thoughts on gay marriage as the U.S. Supreme Court took on the question of whether to make a federal ruling. Rep. Don Young and Sen. Lisa Murkowski weren’t in favor of such a decision, while Sen. Mark Begich has always supported gay marriage.
That topic got trounced in forgetfulness as Young tossed himself into the spotlight by calling Latin Americans “wetbacks.”
On Friday, Move On.org created a national poll to gather 10,000 signatures it said was needed to oust Young for the racial statement uttered in Alaska that got heard nationwide.
Young came under fire for comments he made about immigrant workers during a radio interview in Ketchikan. He apologized later, saying he “meant no disrespect” by using the term “wetback.”
Young said Thursday on KRBD: “My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes. It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, demanded an immediate apology from his fellow Republican.
“Congressman Young’s remarks were offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds,” Boehner said in a statement. “I don’t care why he said it – there’s no excuse and it warrants an immediate apology.”
The comment inflamed the Republicans’ already-poor standing among Latino voters, an increasingly influential voting bloc who favored President Barack Obama and many Democrats during last fall’s campaign.
Democrats seized upon the comments.
“As the Republican minority outreach efforts develop, I’d advise their strategists to list ‘don’t say racial slurs like ‘wetback’’ as a bedrock for their messaging,” said Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, Texas, the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, on Friday.
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