Alaska lawmakers may roll back Palin-era oil tax increase

The Anchorage Daily NewsJanuary 7, 2011 

Momentum is building for a push in the coming weeks to roll back the oil tax increase that stands among the biggest legacies of Sarah Palin's time as governor.

The oil industry and its allies in the Legislature tried and failed last year to cut the profits tax, which still has influential defenders, particularly among Democrats in the Senate. But anti-tax legislators are getting ready to make a hard run when the 90-day legislative session starts in just over a week. Some lawmakers who voted for the tax when it passed in 2007 with Palin's backing have flipped.

"I think we did get it wrong, and we've got the figures and it's a lot of money," said Sen. Tom Wagoner, who will co-chair the Senate Resources Committee.

Wagoner, a Republican from Kenai, said he thinks the tax rate is allowed to rise too steeply when oil prices are high. Wagoner told the Resource Development Council on Thursday that he plans a bill to try to do something about it.

He said his goal is to spur the companies to take the money and invest it in Alaska projects instead. It's one of what are likely to be several oil tax proposals coming.

House Speaker Mike Chenault, who opposed the 2007 change, called it an unfair tax that stifles jobs and needed oil production. The Nikiski Republican said he's gathering data from the oil companies to counter legislators who argue the tax isn't hurting. His goal is a major tax overhaul.

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