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Day 12 of the Special Session and HB 247 Conference Committee Has Yet to Meet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2016

Juneau – The members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition (AIDC) have consistently insisted that any plan to address Alaska’s ongoing fiscal crisis be comprehensive in nature and include reform to our flawed oil and gas subsidy system that is costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars.  House Bill 247 remains the linchpin to a successful fiscal plan, yet the Conference Committee has not met during the 4th Special Session of the 29th Alaska Legislature.  House Resources Committee member Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) represents the AIDC on the Conference Committee and is the only member of the conference committee that originally voted yes on the compromise House bill that passed with bipartisan support.

“We are 12 days into a Special Session that will be a failure if we don’t fix the obvious flaws in this system of oil industry subsidies.  I am anxious to get to work, but the Conference Committee has not had a single meeting,” said Rep. Tarr.  “Most troubling is that I heard Senator Giessel on the radio saying there was a deal.  Crafting a deal without input from the entire committee is a recipe for failure.  If Senator Giessel is serious about a compromise, there needs to be bipartisan work on the bill.”

The cash payments to the oil industry under the current oil tax subsidy system are estimated at over $700 million dollars.  That’s roughly equivalent to the $1000 reduction in Permanent Fund Dividends proposed by the Republican-led leadership in the House and Senate Majorities.  The fiscal impact to the State of Alaska increases to over a billion dollars when the credits to cover oil industry losses are applied.  The members of the AIDC are concerned that the liability related to these unsustainable oil industry subsidies is threatening Alaska’s fiscal future and the Permanent Fund dividends Alaskans rely on.

“The Governor wants this flawed system fixed, we want this flawed system fixed, and the people of Alaska want this flawed system fixed.  It’s past time for the Senate Majority to put Alaska’s interests before the interests of the oil industry,” said AIDC Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage).  “If the current projections are true, the oil companies will collect hundreds of millions in subsidies while paying essentially no production taxes. This imbalance is threating our future.”

The Alaska House of Representatives and Alaska Senate passed different versions of HB 247.  The compromise bill that passed the House with support from a bipartisan majority of the members of the Alaska House should serve as the starting point for any new bill.  The Senate version of HB 247 continues overly generous subsidies for the oil industry and makes it impossible for lawmakers to reach consensus on a comprehensive fiscal plan.  The differences between the two versions are supposed to be worked out in a Conference Committee, but that committee has not met and no meetings have been scheduled.

The members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition are calling for the HB 247 Conference Committee to get to work in a transparent and bipartisan way to craft a solution.  This begins with scheduling a meeting to work on this key issue.

For more information, contact Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.

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