Politics & Government

Alaska state bill links jobs to reducing oil tax

JUNEAU — A bill in the state House could give oil companies tax breaks worth millions for hiring local people — even if they add just a handful of Alaskans to their payrolls, according to state revenue officials.

Under one hypothetical in the state analysis, a big oil company with a $1.5 billion tax liability could get a $30 million rebate for hiring just 50 more Alaska workers.

Even without factoring in the local hire tax rebate, the bill would cost the state an estimated $575 million in lost revenue next budget year, according to a state Department of Revenue preliminary analysis.

State Rep. Craig Johnson, an Anchorage Republican and chairman of the House Resources Committee, is prime sponsor of House Bill 308, which he calls the Alaska Job Security Act. He said his intent is to create oil jobs by encouraging investment through tax breaks.

The measure, a mix of tax credits and lower tax rates, revamps the 2007 oil and gas production tax measure known as the Alaska Clear and Equitable Share, or ACES. Republicans in the Legislature and the oil industry say jobs are being lost and oil companies aren't spending on exploration the way they used to. Democrats say ACES needs more time to work before making wholesale changes. They dispute assertions of lost jobs and lower investment.

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