Alaska Oil Tax Cuts Veto Referendum (August 2014)
|Oil Tax Cuts Referendum|
|State code:||Senate Bill 21|
|Topic:||Taxes on the ballot|
|Status:||On the ballot|
The full text of SB 21 can be found here.
Under the current tax code, oil companies pay a base rate of 25 percent on the first $30 of net profits from a barrel of oil, plus a 0.4 percentage point increase in tax rate for each subsequent $1 in profit per barrel. Under S.B. 21, oil companies will pay a base rate of 35 percent, but the additional add-on tax matching the market price of oil will be removed. Given the new provisions detailed in SB 21, it is estimated that the tax on oil will be approximately 14 percent.
Text of measure
In Alaska, veto referendums are currently worded in such a way that a "yes" vote repeals the law in question, while a "no" vote upholds it.
Supporters of the referendum have created a campaign called "Vote Yes! Repeal the Giveaway!". The referendum's proponents include former Fairbanks mayor, Jim Whitaker; former governor and state representative Jay Hammond's widow, Bella; and former senator, Vic Fischer. Supporters claim the bill only benefits oil companies, not Alaskan citizens. They are confident oil companies will come to Alaska with or without the added incentive of a tax break. After the measure was officially certified in early September 2013, Whitaker said,"I think all Alaskans should be pleased that we have a chance to make a decision individually about something that is going to affect the future of our state for a long time. And this is our shot. This is our chance to do what we think is right."
Gov. Sean Parnell (R) sponsored and strongly supports Senate Bill 21, and therefore is against the effort to repeal it. The governor claims the tax break will entice oil companies to come to Alaska and boost production. Alaska relies heavily on revenue from oil to balance its budget.
Path to the ballot
On March 20, 2013, the Senate passed SB 21 with a vote of 11-9. On April 13, 2013, the House passed the bill 24-15.The bill was signed into law by Gov. Parnell on May 21, 2013 and will take effect on January 1, 2014. In order to get the referendum on the August 2014 ballot as planned, supporters must gather 30,169 signatures. The campaign must obtain these signatures from at least 10 percent of the number of voters who participated in the prior general election, and signatures must be gathered in 30 of the 40 House districts, with at least 7 percent of eligible voters in each district signing. The deadline for signatures was July 13, 2013.
Supporters collected over 45,000 signatures - well above the number required - and exceeded their goal by more than 50 percent. Pat Lavin, one of the referendum effort's organizers, stated, "It's exceeded my expectations." Though support for the referendum has been strong, a 2005 measure that sought to ban aerial wolf hunting will likely maintain the record for the most number of signatures collected. That measure, which was ultimately successful at the polls, garnered more than 55,000 signatures. On September 3, 2013, Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai officially certified the referendum, noting that supporters had met all signature requirements.
|Alaska Oil and Gas Production Tax, SB 21 Senate Vote|
|Alaska Oil and Gas Production Tax, SB 21 House Vote|
Use of veto referenda in Alaska
If this issue makes the ballot, it will be the fourth time Alaskans used their right of veto referendum. They used it first in 1968, with the Voter Registration Referendum, again in 1976, with the Compensation and Retirement Referendum, and most recently in 2000, with the Alaska Land-And-Shoot Referendum.
- OpenStates.org, "SB 21, Alaska Senate Bill,"
- The Alaska State Legislature, "Bill History/Action for 28th Legislature: SB 21,"
- SB 21
- Anchorage Daily News, "Critics of oil tax cuts move ahead with referendum to repeal the legislation," April 18, 2013
- Alaska Dispatch, "Deadline looming, Alaska oil tax repeal petition gains momentum," June 11, 2013
- Alaska Public Media, "Repeal Group Exceeds 45,000 Signatures For Referendum," July 12, 2013
- Alaska Dispatch, "Oil-tax repeal backers claim 51,000 Alaska signatures, far more than needed," July 13, 2013
- Alaska Dispatch, "Referendum to repeal governor's oil tax cut takes another step," April 18, 2013
- Alaska Public Media, "Oil Tax Referendum to Appear on Ballot," September 5, 2013
- OpenStates.org, "SB 21, Alaska Senate Bill," retrieved April 25, 2013
- Homer News, "Parnell spares budget vetoes, signs SB21," May 29, 2013
State of Alaska
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Comptroller | Commissioner of the Department of Revenue | Commissioner of Education | Director of Insurance | Director of Agriculture | Commissioner of Natural Resources | Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development | Regulatory Commission |