default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Difficult politics: Governor still has work to do on oil tax reform in Senate

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 11:56 pm | Updated: 4:16 pm, Fri Jan 25, 2013.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial

The Daily News-Miner published 68 letters to the editor related to the oil tax debate and the Senate bipartisan coalition’s role in that debate between Oct. 1 and Nov. 4. The letters we published were the letters we received. (Few, if any, were rejected for not following guidelines.)

Of these letters, 55 backed the Senate coalition and/or opposed the governor’s oil tax cut efforts, with most characterizing the governor’s proposal as a “$2 billion giveaway.” Only eight local letter writers explicitly backed the tax cut and coalition.

Obviously, letters aren’t a systematic poll. Nevertheless, they can reflect the saliency of issues in the community. Based on the lopsided outpouring, one might have expected Fairbanks voters in Tuesday’s election to reject candidates sympathetic to the governor’s oil tax reform ideas.

However, the opposite occurred in the two high-profile Senate races. Democratic Sens. Joe Thomas and Joe Paskvan both lost to Republican opponents who were perceived to be more supportive of the governor’s approach, Sen. John Coghill and former Sen. Pete Kelly respectively. Results in House races were mixed but won’t change the Republican majority, which backed the governor during the previous session.

The Senate bipartisan coalition’s loss of Paskvan and Thomas led to creation Wednesday of a new Republican majority caucus, the members of which revealed themselves at a late afternoon news conference in Anchorage. The caucus includes the three men who Fairbanks voters chose to serve in the Senate: Coghill, Kelly and Click Bishop.

The Republican caucus has improved prospects for the governor’s oil tax ambitions. However, victory still is not certain.

For one thing, caucuses created after November elections occasionally have collapsed before the start of the legislative session in January. This one seems credible enough, but one never knows what sort of dealing might continue in closed meetings.

More importantly, though, the governor still faces a diverse group of legislators this coming session, some of whom remain on the fence and all of whom will come under intense pressure from various constituencies. The governor and his administration will need to justify an oil tax reform package to the satisfaction of a sufficient number of legislators and Alaskans. He hasn’t succeeded at that job during the past two years.

Even if the pure Republican majority leads the Senate, Parnell could find that some senators who he and the public consider allies might be more skeptical than he expects. For example, while Kelly has said he believes oil tax reform is essential and has criticized the way Paskvan handled the issue procedurally during the past legislative session, Kelly praised the substance of Paskvan’s approach during the Chamber of Commerce debate last month.

The relative depth and strength of that agreement could inject an new layer of complexity into the politics of oil taxation during the coming six months. The governor can’t take anything for granted at this point.

More about

More about


Blue Loon - Papa Roach Live 2014 (Rev)

Blue Loon - Papa Roach Live 2014 (Revised)Fairbanks, AlaskaFriday, July 11...

WEIO 2014
Find Yourself

You're ready for something new. New challenges, new places, new adventures. E...

Bill Walker, candidate for governor, was born in Fairbanks before statehood. ...

Gubernatorial candidate, Bill Walker, is concerned that the state is in a $7 ...


The Daily News-Miner encourages residents to make themselves heard through the Opinion pages. Readers' letters and columns also appear online at Contact the editor with questions at or call 459-7574.

Community Perspective

Send Community Perspective submissions by mail (P.O. Box 70710, Fairbanks AK 99707) or via email ( Submissions must be 500 to 750 words. Columns are welcome on a wide range of issues and should be well-written and well-researched with attribution of sources. Include a full name, email address, daytime telephone number and headshot photograph suitable for publication (email jpg or tiff files at 150 dpi.) You may also schedule a photo to be taken at the News-Miner office. The News-Miner reserves the right to edit submissions or to reject those of poor quality or taste without consulting the writer.

Letters to the editor

Send letters to the editor by mail (P.O. Box 70710, Fairbanks AK 99707), by fax (907-452-7917) or via email ( Writers are limited to one letter every 30 days. All letters must contain no more than 350 words and include a full name (no abbreviation), daytime and evening phone numbers and physical address. (If no phone, then provide a mailing address or email address.) The Daily News-Miner reserves the right to edit or reject letters without consulting the writer.