Joe Schierhorn

GUEST COMMENTARY: Now is a terrible time to increase oil production taxes

With the pandemic threatening our lives and our livelihood, oil prices at rock bottom, the loss of the visitor industry for the season and commercial seafood at risk, this is a terrible time to raise oil production taxes by as much as 300 percent. Ballot Measure 1 is a vicious and dangerous attack on the future of our state. It sends the message that “If you invest here, we will increase your taxes every time we run out of money.” People say this is an oil company issue. It’s not. It’s an Alaska issue. Oil companies can take their money and invest it anywhere in the world — and they will. But where do the rest of us go? This is where we have our homes, families, jobs and businesses. This is where we plan a future for our kids and grandkids. Where do we go when the pipeline shuts down, the jobs dry up, home values collapse and there is no one left to support our tax base, our charities and our economic way of life? Other industries, like mining, tourism, seafood, and the many service businesses, will ask the question: who’s next? Why would they want to invest here? Why would anyone invest in a state that is trying to kill itself? Proponents of Ballot Measure 1 imply that the oil industry pays little or no taxes. That’s wrong. In the past five years, according to information provided in a prior article by oil economist Roger Marks, the oil industry paid an average of almost $3 billion per year in taxes and royalties and kept about $1 billion. That’s a government take of 74 percent of the pretax value. The Lower 48 government take was about 64 percent. Increased oil production is the best solution to Alaska’s budget problems. The oil industry has plans to spend $24 billion over the next 10 years, which could boost our oil production by several hundred thousand barrels per day. This investment would stop — and oil production would decline to dangerous levels — if we overtax this important industry. Why risk driving away what a 2019 study by the McDowell group noted is a $5 billion annual payroll, 77,000 jobs, $4 billion in annual payments to Alaska businesses? This money runs throughout our economy and supports so many charities and events that provide needed services to so many in our state. We are extremely concerned that if Ballot Measure 1 were to pass, it would begin an economic death spiral for Alaska. Our economy is fragile, and this initiative could tip us over the edge. They call this the “Fair Share Act”: • Is it FAIR that you will no longer have a job? • Is it FAIR that your house will be worth less? • Is it FAIR that your children will have little to no opportunity to stay and work in Alaska if this initiative passes? • Is it fair that there is no industry left to pay for government services, our schools and support our charities? A better name would be “The Job Killer Act of 2020.” We have a choice: • More oil or more taxes • A strong economy or recession • Jobs or no jobs This is not the time to destroy what we have left in Alaska. Jim Jansen and Joe Schierhorn are members of the OneAlaska campaign opposing Ballot Measure 1 and the KEEP Alaska Competitive Coalition. Jansen is the chairman of the Lynden Companies. Schierhorn is the president and CEO of Northrim Bank.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Dodd-Frank reforms show Washington can work

A bipartisan group of senators — Democrats, Republicans and one Independent — voted to pass the first set of substantial reforms to our nation’s financial system since 2010. The bill that cleared the Senate was the result of multiple hearings, broad stakeholder input, and thoughtful negotiations between lawmakers of differing parties and views. As Senate leaders work with the House to get this bill to the president’s desk for his signature, we thank Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan, who supported this bill on the floor. Why should voters in Alaska care about this unusual moment of unity? The bill is full of targeted regulatory reforms that will help Alaska’s community banks better serve customers and communities. For example, the bill makes tangible improvements that will streamline the mortgage process and free up credit to help banks get borrowers into new homes with the right kind of mortgage. It will help small business owners get loans to expand and hire more employees. And it will help bankers devote more time to front-line customer service, rather than spending hours each day working to comply with federal regulations that were supposed to apply only to far bigger, more complex banks. Consumers, business owners and bankers have been saying for years that there are too many regulatory impediments to growth in their communities. Sens. Murkowski and Sullivan deserve credit for listening — and responding. Their support for this bill will help fuel economic growth and job creation in communities across the country. We join with people across the country to support this bipartisan approach to solving problems. And we support our senators and other lawmakers who chose the path of hard work and compromise. We look forward to the House building on the solid bipartisanship that achieved this important victory in the Senate, and the President signing this into law soon. And thanks again to Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Sullivan for leading the way and showing that Washington can work together on behalf of the American people. Joe Schierhorn is the President and CEO of Northrim Bank and President of the Alaska Bankers Association.
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