On Sept. 1, Mr. Michael Geraghty gave us a Community Perspective on the oil tax initiative, Ballot Measure 1, Alaska’s Fair Share, which is on the ballot in the November election. I read this with interest. However, by the time I got midway through the piece, I realized that nearly every point he was making was misinformed and bad advice. His tone is one of a used car salesman trying to sell you a really bad deal on a five-year-old lemon car, which is what our present tax system is, Senate Bill 21. Legislators, who Geraghty seems to feel are the only ones who can possibly understand the complex system of oil taxation, are supposed to be dealing with this. I wish they were, but they’ve had five years and not done anything to get our fair share of revenue.
The problem I see is, if we leave it to the Legislature, which we have done until our patience ran out this year and we filed this initiative, the oil company lobbyists can have their way with our Legislature and nothing would change.
But we can change this now by voting yes on the Alaska’s Fair Share ballot initiative. The Legislature has had many chances to give us a fair share. They have failed. We must not fail.
While trying to compliment Alaskans as being smart and savvy voters, Mr. Geraghty “confesses to skepticism that they are able to make a good decision as to oil taxation.” Putting it as plainly as I can, he obviously means Alaska voters aren‘t smart enough to get a fair share of our oil revenue by using their constitutional right to the initiative process and voting for the ballot initiative. Geraghty maintains that this should be left to the Legislature. The Legislature has had years to make this right, as I have said. Instead we have given the industry more in corporate welfare than we received in production tax revenue since 2015. The Dunleavy administration has drained our last savings with the help of the Legislature, and we have seen higher property taxes to make up for the loss of state revenue sharing for school bond debt reimbursement. So we shouldn’t vote for this ballot initiative now? Oh yes we should!
The ballot initiative process is a constitutional right for the people of Alaska to employ when they feel that the present situation is unacceptable. And now we can vote for a fair share of oil revenue that is due us. That is why the ballot initiative is called Alaska’s Fair Share. For years we have not received the fair share, and we’ve given away the revenue that we should’ve kept for our own needs. While supporters of the Alaska’s Fair Share Act ballot initiative struggle to make the facts known, the oil industry that lobbies against any change in our revenue stream is spending $10 million plus in advertising to persuade us to vote against it. And why wouldn’t they? They already have more than their fair share and want to keep it.
These oil industry ads are trying to persuade you to vote against your own best interests. Anybody who thinks that this ballot initiative is not in the citizens’ best interest and in the state’s fiscal interest is fooling themselves. The state is in deep financial trouble: Revenues are down, tourism is down, the state budget is down, the university is being starved. We need revenue, and this is the fairest way to get it, and we’re due it anyway. Vote yes on Ballot Measure 1.
Every day we wait to get our fair share of oil revenue is oil and revenue lost and which will never come again. Once it’s in the pipeline, it’s gone, and if we haven’t charged our fair share, we’ll never get it. Please think carefully about this, because the amount of propaganda against voting for your fair share is enormous. Don’t be fooled.
Alaska’s best interest, our citizens’ best interest, as well as protecting the permanent fund dividend and the future are all best served by voting yes and receiving what is a fair share for our oil.
Vote yes for our fair share on Ballot Measure 1.
Rich Seifert is a professor emeritus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He lives in Fairbanks. The opinions stated here are his own.