Monthly Archives: March 2013

Alaska Oil Policy| “Oil Taxes 101”

Oil Taxes 101 (3.29.2013)At Rep. Lynn Gattis’ request I provided an afternoon “lunch and learn” (maybe more accurately given the hour, a “coffee and learn”) yesterday on oil tax issues.  The presentation was intended to provide a background mostly for House members not on House Resources or Finance, but who nevertheless will be called on to deal with the issues when the current oil tax reform bill reaches the House floor.

In the tradition of a lunch and learn, the presentation was more a discussion with members than testimony.  The discussion ranged over a number of issues, including the reasons for the “Oil & Gas Competitiveness Review Board” (contained in the Senate version of SB 21) and the effect of Alaska’s current fiscal policy on attracting long term investment.  The slide deck is available at Oil Taxes 101 (3.29.2013).  The archive of the webcast is available by clicking on the picture above, or here.

Alaska Oil Policy| The Governor commits an unforced error …

“Unforced error,” n.  in sports [or politics], a mistake made by the player and not due to the opponent’s skill or effort.

The Governor’s announcement Wednesday of a revised FY 2014 “spending cap” of $6.78 billion — a $300 million increase over the budget he proposed in December — comes as a surprise, and not a good one.  Indeed, it may somewhat serve to undermine his continuing case for oil tax reform.

As I have previously explained on these pages, restoring investor confidence in Alaska requires two things,  oil tax reform and fiscal reform.  Both are critical.

The case for oil tax reform has been made on these pages, in committee hearings and elsewhere.  I also have made the case for fiscal reform on these pages and in hearings, but its importance bears repeating. Continue reading

Alaska Senate: Hold that line …

Hold that lineAn article from this morning’s Juneau Empire caught my attention as I was reading the papers from the day.  The headline was “Sandy Parnell among Juneau residents to testify on state budget” and reports on public testimony  given Saturday before the Senate Finance committee.

From the article, it appears that the hearing was composed primarily of a series of requests by various parties for restoration of various funding cuts made by the House Finance committee to the Governor’s original budget.  One of the requests was from the Governor’s wife, but the request that caught my attention most comes later in the story, when representatives from the Juneau school district testified. Continue reading

Alaska Oil Policy| SB 21’s “Oil & Gas Competitiveness Review Board” needs a fix …

As SB 21 moves from the Senate to the House for consideration some will suggest various changes that should be made while in the House.  One set of changes that should be made is to the membership of the “Oil & Gas Competitiveness Review Board,” a proposal offered and championed by Senator McGuire during the bill’s  time in the Senate.

I have long been a supporter of such a Review Board and believe I was in the room when it was first discussed.  Indeed, one of the earliest pieces I wrote on Alaska oil & gas policy was in support of adopting such a proposal.  (“Alaska’s Future:  Sen. McGuire’s Proposed Competitiveness Review Is Important,” Feb. 10, 2011).

But the proposed membership in this version is not the same as when the Board was first discussed and the change is for the worse.  As the bill travels through the House, the membership of the Board should be modified to reflect a broader constituency. Continue reading

Alaska Fiscal Policy| Moving toward a sustainable budget for Alaska …

Goldsmith TestimonyThe Senate and House Finance Committees met jointly this morning to hear from Dr. Scott Goldsmith of the University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social & Economic Research (ISER).  Dr. Goldsmith is the author of “Maximum Sustainable Yield:  FY 2014 Update,” the ISER study which outlines an approach to moving toward a sustainable budget for Alaska. Continue reading

Alaska Oil Policy| Where Alaska is missing a stitch …

Today’s papers are full of articles about the coming vote Monday in the Senate on oil tax reform.  The best of the batch (i.e., most fact rich) to me is Juneau Empire reporter Mark Miller’s “Senators preparing for oil tax bill vote,” but there are additional updates as well in the Anchorage Daily News,  Alaska Dispatch and APRN.

The Senate should pass the bill forwarded Thursday from the Senate Finance Committee.  Looking at the current prospects across the North Slope, the bill likely will result in a badly needed near-term uptick in short-term, productive investment. Continue reading

Alaska Fiscal Policy| A Sustainable Budget for Alaska …

A Sustainable Budget for Alaska (Kenai Alliance Chapter 3.15.2013)_Page_01

I outline my thoughts today on developing a sustainable budget for Alaska before the Kenai Chapter of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance.  The slide pack is available here.

There is nothing significantly new for those who have followed this blog, but the speech provides a good opportunity to start bringing those thoughts together in a forward looking package.

Alaska Oil & Fiscal Policy| Some new posts …

BGK Observations UpdatesFrom time to time I use a second blog — Observations and Updates:  A Companion to Thoughts on Alaska Oil & Gas — for posts.  Normally, posts on that blog are more about upcoming talk radio and other appearances, but sometimes, especially when I have a post on this blog that I want to keep at the top for a few days, I will post more substantive pieces.

Readers of this blog are able to follow the posts on the second by paging down the right hand side of this blog to the box headed “The Last Five from Observations & Updates.”  Readers also are able to follow posts made to that blog by subscribing via email or RSS feed (both available down the right side of the front page of that blog). Continue reading

Alaska Oil Policy| “Maximum Benefit” (the fifth in the Alaska Business Monthly Series, from the March 2013 edition)

Alaska Business Monthly (March 2013)As noted on these pages previously, I write a bi-monthly column on oil & gas issues for the Alaska Business Monthly.  This is the fifth column, originally published in the March 2013 print edition and available online here.

Article VIII, Section 2 of the Alaska Constitution requires that “[t]he legislature shall provide for the utilization, development, and conservation of all natural resources belonging to the State, including land and waters, for the maximum benefit of its people.”

As we have often heard during this legislative session, many read this provision as having significant relevance to the current oil tax debate, arguing that the provision requires the state to tax oil production at high rates in order to derive the “maximum benefit” from the oil for the state’s citizens. Continue reading