Andrew Jensen

AJOC EDITORIAL: Gara strikes out over tax rates

After years of debate and endless hearings on the subject, it’s remarkable at this late date that Dan Seckers still had to teach a chapter out of “Tax Policy for Dummies” at the March 22 meeting of the House Finance Committee.

The tax counsel for ExxonMobil actually had to explain the difference between a statutory tax rate and an effective tax rate to Finance Vice Chair Les Gara, D-Anchorage, in a lengthy exchange that descended into the surreal from the sheer remedial nature of it.

AJOC EDITORIAL: House Resources tells Armstrong thanks for nothing

The first time Bill Armstrong met former Gov. Sean Parnell several years back he pointed at a map of the North Slope and told him where he intended to find a huge amount of oil.

A confident Texas wildcatter is about as uncommon as a member of the House Majority that wants to raise taxes on the oil industry, but only one of them is actually good for Alaska.

As information has trickled out over the years since Armstrong and his former majority partner Repsol began exploring, he has been proven more and more right.

AJOC EDITORIAL: No sauce for the gander at House Resources

As Ron Burgundy may say, “That escalated quickly.”

Things went sideways not long after House Resources Committee Co-Chair Garen Tarr, D-Anchorage, began a Feb. 22 hearing that was, in her words, to hear from the state’s “industry partners” about the oil tax increases proposed in House Bill 111 introduced by her and her fellow Democrats on the body.

Less than six minutes later, Tarr put the smack down on the lead representative of the state’s partners, Alaska Oil and Gas Association President Kara Moriarty.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Overtaxing is as bad as overfishing

Dating back to before statehood, Alaskans know that overfishing is a bad thing.

Stopping overfishing of salmon and regaining control of the resource was in fact one of the driving forces in the effort to become a state.

What we know about sustainability of our vast fisheries resources is worth applying to yet another debate over another immense asset — our oil — and the means by which that resource is taxed.

AJOC EDITORIAL: The discoveries that almost didn’t happen

We aren’t hearing much from the opponents of the 2013 oil tax reform lately.

Facts tend to get in the way of rhetorical hyperbole, and it appears that reality has finally caught up with Democrats and Gov. Bill Walker, who collectively agitated for the repeal Senate Bill 21 in a 2014 voter referendum.

Losing that fight didn’t end the debate, however.

Nor did the undisputed evidence from Walker’s own Revenue Department that SB 21 was bringing in more money than the previous system as prices started to slide late in 2014.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Production forecast leaves room for pleasant surprise

A brutal year in the Alaska oil patch ended on a positive note as calendar year 2016 followed the fiscal year trend with an increase in North Slope production.

Amid the worst price environment since the late 1990s resulting in thousands of layoffs for the oil industry, production grew in the fiscal year ended June 30 and for the calendar year ended Dec. 31.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Obama keeps adding to Trump’s ‘undo’ list

Not unlike an evicted renter who plugs the toilets and punches holes in the drywall in a petulant rage against the homeowner, President Barack Obama appears intent on causing as much damage as possible before he’s finally forced to exit the White House on Jan. 20.

AJOC EDITORIAL: A Christmas wish list for 2017

The next year could be even wilder than 2016, if that’s possible.

In less than a month, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States and the Alaska Legislature will convene in Juneau for its last serious crack at addressing the state’s burgeoning budget deficits.

It’s almost appropriate that one of Gov. Bill Walker’s last acts of the year was to kill the Juneau Access Project, because the Legislature has run out of road to kick the can.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Left’s hysteria reaches fever pitch as Trump fills cabinet

President-elect Donald Trump reportedly offered defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton five cents on the dollar for the fireworks victory display she canceled at the last moment, but he could save all his money and just watch liberals’ heads explode as he fills his cabinet.

There’s a saying that you can judge someone by the company they keep, which is true, but sometimes it as just as useful to see who are their adversaries.

State joins defense of a witch hunt

The home of the Salem witch trials has birthed another effort to hang the imagined heretics, and the State of Alaska is seeking to supply the judges with the rope.

AJOC EDITORIAL: House heads for shakeup, but do Alaskans care?

Much like Usain Bolt in the 100-meter dash, contests for the state Legislature in November figure to be races in name only.

What drama could be found took place on primary night and ended up decided by a tiny fraction of Alaskans even in the contested elections.

Democrats succeeded in toppling one of their top targets within their party — Rep. Bob Herron of Bethel — and Republicans did the same by taking out one of their own as George Rauscher defeated Rep. Jim Colver in the Mat-Su Valley.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Walker completes transformation of AGDC to AGPA

Gov. Bill Walker likes to talk about his background in construction and how much he loves building things, but so far after a little more than 18 months in office his most successful project has been demolition.

The effort to undermine and eventually dismantle the Alaska LNG Project that began within days of Walker taking office in December 2014 culminated July 22 with the official announcement that his former law partner and Attorney General Craig Richards had been signed to a $275-an-hour contract barely a month after he resigned citing personal reasons.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Legislators have only selves to blame for vetoes

The 29th session of the Alaska Legislature is starting to resemble the final scene of Reservoir Dogs when everyone ends up dead.

Gov. Bill Walker dropped the veto hammer on $1.3 billion worth of state spending on June 29 after the House Finance Committee refused to even allow a floor vote on using part of the Permanent Fund earnings to bridge a budget deficit of almost $4 billion.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Gov. Walker gets chance to bite the bullet on the PFD

Gov. Bill Walker has said repeatedly he’s willing to take the hit for reducing the Permanent Fund Dividend as a partial solution to the state’s budget deficit, and it looks like he’s going to get that chance.

The Alaska House of Representatives adjourned the latest special session on June 18 one day after the Finance Committee failed to advance Senate Bill 128 for a floor vote.

SB 128, which passed the Senate 14-5, would have ensured a $1,000 dividend for the next three years and contributed about $1.8 billion toward reducing the fiscal year 2017 deficit.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Democrats’ ghoulish response to Orlando attack

President Barack Obama was unsure of the motivations of a man who yelled “Allahu akbar” as he opened fire on hundreds of defenseless people at an Orlando nightclub, but he was certain what the real problem is.

“This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub,” he said. “And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

AJOC EDITORIAL: $1,000 is nothing to sneeze at

Only in Alaska could a guaranteed $1,000 to every man, woman and child be considered a rip-off.

Only in Alaska could such an unrealistic attitude take hold fueled by widespread expectations that everything should be paid for by the federal government funded by U.S. taxpayers and the state government funded almost entirely by a single industry.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Money for nothing and the checks for free

I want my, I want my, I want my PFD.

With apologies to Dire Straits, the demagogues in the Democrat ranks are back in their comfort zone after dismantling oil and gas tax credits they once championed under ACES by winning over enough squishes among a Republican-led Majority that now exists in name only.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Democrats loved credits, until they didn’t

Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, and former Democrat Sen. Hollis French once boasted about spending $540 million on them in a single fiscal year.

As a candidate, Gov. Bill Walker said he wanted to use them on the North Slope the way they’ve been used in Cook Inlet.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, touted them as a way for the major Slope producers to reduce their tax liability.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Dead horses: Feds’ King Cove hypocrisy & the LIO fiasco

Sometimes a dead horse really does need another beating.

On May 4, we received a fresh reminder of the federal government’s rank and callous hypocrisy regarding the emergency access road from King Cove to Cold Bay.

Earlier in the week, we were treated to more of the rudderless Legislature’s trademark blend of incompetence and dysfunction that goes together like a jar of Goober Grape.

ConocoPhillps loses $1.47B in 1Q, pays 96.4% effective tax rate in Alaska

ConocoPhillips posted a loss of $1.47 billion in the first quarter of 2016, including a $2 million net loss from its Alaska operations.

The state’s largest oil producer increased its output year-over-year by 4.3 percent, from 163,000 barrels per day in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 170,000 in 2016.

It also spent $320 million in capital expenditures in Alaska, down from the $402 million spent in the same period of 2015, which reflects the work done throughout last year to bring the CD-5 site into production last October.

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