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Leadership needed: New legislative committee illustrates the challenge

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Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012 12:25 am | Updated: 4:15 pm, Fri Jan 25, 2013.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Editorial

An Associated Press story from Juneau the other day included this worrisome sentence about Gov. Sean Parnell’s plans for the upcoming legislative session: “A Parnell spokeswoman said it’s too early to say whether Parnell will submit an oil tax bill of his own or leave that to lawmakers.”

It’s not too early to understand that there should be no uncertainty on this issue.

It is not too early for the governor to take the lead. As the state’s chief executive, his leadership is essential if there is there is to be an informed and productive debate on oil taxes in 2013.

Creating the impression that the Legislature is in a better position to take the lead on this matter is simply incorrect. The chief executive has the staff and the ability to marshal the resources necessary to put a solid plan forward. The governor’s plan should be a starting point for legislative review.

The committee lineup announced Monday by the new Senate GOP majority includes a new committee called “TAPS Throughput Decline,” which is to be led by two freshmen Republican lawmakers, Sen.-Elect Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna; and Sen.-Elect Mike Dunleavy, R-Mat-Su.

The question of oil decline is central to this discussion. That the co-chairmen are new to the process is another reason why waiting for a legislative solution appears unwise.

Earlier this year, the administration hired an oil tax consultant to help better understand the oil and gas situation in our state. Armed with the results of that research, the governor will be in a better position to sell a plan about the need to reduce oil taxes, not just to legislators, but to all Alaskans.

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