Some Alaska lawmakers want new tax breaks for oil industry

As Alaska state lawmakers debate whether to give big tax breaks to Big Oil this year, a key question concerns whether tax increases passed in 2007 are hurting the industry that fuels Alaska state government, and if so, what to do about it.

A panel that would be involved in any tax-law changes, the Senate Finance Committee, is spending this week and part of next trying to get to the bottom of the matter. The committee has scheduled hearings almost every day on oil production and jobs, tax deductions and tax credits.

The Finance Committee isn't scheduled to hear any particular bill rolling back taxes at this point. It's also sitting on dozens of other bills during the period set aside for the oil and gas tax review.

"Depending on the outcome of the presentations and the analysis, there may or may not even be a bill," said state Sen. Bert Stedman, a Republican from Sitka who co-chairs the Finance Committee.

The oil industry has been bombarding the state with advertisements about lost jobs and business as a result of the 2007 tax bill known as ACES, or Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share.

Republicans in both the House and the Senate are proposing big oil-tax rollbacks. One, state Rep. Mike Kelly of Fairbanks, wants to give oil producers a 10-year break on taxes for oil from new development. Gov. Sean Parnell is proposing tax credits, but not a rollback of the tax on profits.

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