Opinion: Ballot Measure 1 would be deleterious to Alaska’s future

A yes vote on Ballot Measure 1 would be like driving a ship into the eye of a storm.

  • Tuesday, July 21, 2020 12:44pm
  • Opinion

Like many sectors of the economy, the oil industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. Stay at home orders that greatly reduced demand for fuel, production wars between Saudi Arabia and Russia that greatly increased the global supply of oil drove the price down to historically low levels. The industry has struggled nationally, and Alaska’s industry has been no exception. Alaska’s oil industry has one of the highest cost structures in the world, and some firms are struggling to make royalty payments.

Oil revenue is the lifeblood of Alaska’s economy. Nearly one-third of all employment in Alaska is directly tied to the oil industry. The majority of Alaska’s state revenue is derived from the oil industry, and public employment is also a large component of the Alaska economy.

Raising taxes on Alaska’s oil industry at the present time would be deleterious to Alaska’s economy- it would be like kicking a person when they are down. An increase in the tax would lead to declines in production, employment, and investment. Not only would this hurt current oil production and state revenue, and it would have an adverse impact on future revenue through disinvestment and future production cuts.

To put it in terms that a Coast Guard engineer like Rich Moniak (of a previous editorial) might understand, a yes vote on Ballot Measure 1 would be like driving a ship into the eye of a storm. At first it would seem peaceful;, but the back side of the storm soon hits with a new set of dangers that are often worse than the beginning of the storm. Voting no on Ballot Measure 1 would be more like staying at the edge of the storm; the ride will be rough but navigable.

Whether Ballot Measure 1 passes taxes, there will be decreases in public services — so the question becomes do we want to destroy Alaska’s future economy by stifling its lifeblood through raising taxes or sit tight, be fiscally conservative, and weather the storm. If we sit tight, be fiscally conservative and vote no on Ballot Measure 1, we can at least preserve the private sector and have some hope of a future economic recovery. A yes vote will have an adverse impact on oil production, industry investment, state revenue, creating damaging impacts on employment in multiple economic sectors and state revenue now and in the future. Please, vote no on Ballot measure 1.

Barbara Haney, Ph.D., is a North Pole resident. Haney received her Ph.D. in public finance from the University of Notre Dame and previously taught economics at several institutions including the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is currently a legislative aide to Rep. Mike Prax. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

More in Opinion

Opinion: A healthy economy will help us defeat the coronavirus

Government should be focused on the emergency before us, put lesser priorities on the back burner.

Are school closures based on science or fear?

If we believe children come first, then fears must be overcome in favor of science and common sense.

Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

Opinion: Puzzled by ‘tipping point’ question

Regardless of who wins in November, do you think nastiness and divisiveness will suddenly cease?

Opinion: Not all fishermen support Sullivan

We encourage independent-minded fishermen to support independent candidate Dr. Al Gross.

Opinion: COVID-19, terrorism and the politics of fearmongering

It’s about how quickly the virus spreads after someone unknowingly transmits it.

This undated photo shows members of the Rorem family. (Courtesy Photo / Laura and Larry Rorem)
Opinion: Our experiences with both racism and white privilege

Suburban Detroit 1982: “Mom, my History teacher is prejudice and giving me… Continue reading

Opinion: Past the tipping point

In a recent Empire opinion piece, I asked if the Grand Old… Continue reading

Opinion: Our democratic republic is in jeopardy

The spectacle we’re witnessing in Donald Trump’s continued crackdown against American citizens… Continue reading

Most Read