Oct. 24, 2012
To the editor:
We elect leaders to public office expecting them to look after our best interests. Two of our current leaders, Sen. Joe Thomas and Sen. Joe Paskvan, have fulfilled this duty faithfully. By working effectively across party lines with other moderates, they helped form the bipartisan coalition that organized the Alaska Senate.
Their participation in the Senate’s ruling coalition increased Fairbanks’s influence in Juneau and benefitted our community significantly.
During the last legislative session, the Alaska House passed an oil tax “reform” plan pushed by Gov. Sean Parnell, a former ConocoPhillips lobbyist. The oil industry claimed the tax cut was necessary to provide adequate incentives for developing new oil fields. But when Senate critics asked oil company lobbyists for guarantees that the tax cuts would be used to expand development, the oil companies refused. The Senate wisely rejected the scheme, which would have cost our state treasury $2 billion annually.
When it died at the end of the regular session, Gov. Parnell called a special session to reconsider the tax cut. Despite intense lobbying by the governor and the oil companies, Sens. Thomas and Paskvan and the other moderates of the bipartisan coalition again defeated the governor’s tax giveaway.
By doing the right thing for Alaska, Sens. Thomas and Paskvan and the moderates from other parts of Alaska incurred the wrath of the governor, whose redistricting board has gerrymandered their districts in an effort to get rid of them. They now face tough election fights against extreme partisans who are well-financed by special interests aligned with the oil industry.
Recently, the governor signaled his intent to renew the raid on our treasury. If his efforts to break up the Senate’s bipartisan coalition in the upcoming election succeed, the oil tax giveaway will likely pass and have an impact on school budgets, roads and other services.
Fortunately, the public has taken note of the governor’s actions. We have good reason to believe that moderation will prevail in the election. Please remember to vote on Nov. 6 and return our Two Good Joes to the Senate.