Gov. Sean Parnell is reviewing whether to change state oil tax laws implemented under Sarah Palin, as oil companies blame the taxes for driving investment dollars from Alaska to other parts of the world. The governor said Wednesday that he has asked the state Department of Revenue to evaluate whether any "tweaks" should be made to the tax system that could lead directly to more jobs for Alaskans. He said he's also spoken with oil companies.
"My bottom line, if they need tax changes, and it will result in more investment, I'm all for it," Parnell said in an e-mail. "But the companies will have to justify changes in light of Alaskans' interests -- I don't intend to merely shift tax revenue from Alaskans' pockets to company pockets; instead, I intend to create more jobs and revenue for Alaskans in the long run in making any tax changes."
Parnell, a Republican who took over as governor in July after Palin's resignation, said he's had an ongoing conversation with state Revenue Commissioner Pat Galvin about the oil tax system over the past couple of months.
Republican state legislators are increasingly vocal with criticism of the tax system, known as Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share, or ACES. The Legislature passed it in 2007, as oil prices skyrocketed, at the urging of Palin and then-Lt. Gov. Parnell.
ACES represented a major tax increase on the oil companies during high oil prices, with the amount the state takes tied to the price. This year the price has fallen from the historic highs reached last year, but it is still $20 a barrel higher than the average of this decade.
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