A divided Alaska Senate has passed an overhaul of Alaska's oil tax structure.
Supporters say the bill will make Alaska more competitive and lead to more investment. Critics call it a giveaway with no assurances that Alaska will see anything in return.
"How do we possibly justify passing this bill?" asked Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage. "How do we possibly go back to our constituents and say, 'Yeah, we represented you the best that we can?'"
Just one amendment of more than a dozen passed. It was a majority-backed proposal that would raise the base tax rate from the current 25 percent to 35 percent.
"This bill does something very good; the biggest thing that it does for me is tell me we don't have to accept failure as our destiny," said Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks.
The bill up for debate had proposed a 35 percent tax rate through 2016, after which it would be 33 percent, but the final bill settled on the 35 percent tax rate. Some senators felt more comfortable with the higher rate, seeing it as competitive while reducing the overall fiscal impact of the bill.
The version of the bill passed by the Senate also eliminates progressivity, a taxing mechanism that kicks in once the profits on oil exceed $30 per barrel.
"As the bill moves to the House, I will continue to weigh changes against my four guiding principles," Governor Sean Parnell said in a statement Wednesday night. "We are making significant progress toward Alaskans' goal of attracting new investment, encouraging increased production, and restoring our standing as America's great oil province."
The 11-9 vote followed hours of debate. Reconsideration was served, meaning it could be voted on again.
Senators who voted Yea on the bill: Senators who voted Nay on the bill:
Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks Dennis Egan, D-Juneau
John Coghill, R-Fairbanks Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage
Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla Hollis French, D-Anchorage
Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage
Anna Fairclough, R-Eagle River Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel
Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage Donald Olson, D-Golovin
Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla Bert Stedman, R-Sitka
Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak
Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage
Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage
Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna
(Mike Ross contributed to this report)
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