Following the close of the first session of the 28th Alaska Legislature, Governor Sean Parnell today thanked legislators and highlighted the successful passage of many of his key priorities to improve Alaska. Reforming Alaska's oil tax structure, providing cheaper energy to Interior and rural communities, reducing payroll tax increases, exercising fiscal restraint, and protecting Alaskan families led the governor's agenda this session.
Alaska's Oil Production Comeback
After thoughtful analysis and debate, legislators passed Senate Bill 21, Governor Parnell's bill to create a prosperous future for Alaskans though increased production. This legislation simplifies Alaska's oil tax structure and provides the right balance for Alaskans at both high and low oil prices. Senate Bill 21 significantly improves Alaska's competitive standing.
"This session, we took major steps to grow our economy and create opportunities for Alaskans," Governor Parnell said. "Senate Bill 21 sets the course for an oil production comeback on the North Slope. I thank the many Alaskans from across the state who made their voices heard and testified on the importance of oil tax reform and what it means to their future."
The Legislature also passed the governor's permitting legislation. House Bill 129 and Senate Bill 27 will give Alaskans more say over the permitting process.
Lowering Alaskans' Taxes
Governor Sean Parnell welcomed passage of his legislation to allow for the suspension of automatic payroll tax increases when the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund is deemed solvent. Currently, the law requires tax collections, including increases, from employers and employees, even if the UI Trust Fund is solvent. The governor's legislation ensures Alaska's workers and employers aren't overtaxed.
Governor Parnell proposed a 5-year fiscal plan to manage Alaska's reserve funds wisely and limit government spending. The governor also proposed a spending cap of more than one billion dollars less than the current year.
"We are committed to instilling greater fiscal responsibility in state spending over the next five years," Governor Parnell said. "We will continue to drive economic growth and opportunity for Alaskans through lower taxes."
Interior Energy Plan
Additionally, the Legislature passed the governor's Interior Energy Plan, which will provide cheaper energy to the Interior and Alaska's road and river communities. Senate Bill 23 puts in place a financing package for natural gas liquefaction on the North Slope and a distribution system, in conjunction with private sector financing. Building an Interior gas distribution system will benefit Alaskans now, and position those communities to have access to an Alaska gasline in the future.
Better Protection for Domestic Violence and Sex Trafficking Victims
Governor Parnell's crime bill to better protect Alaskan families, children and trafficking victims received strong legislative support. The bill reinforces penalties on the demand side of sex trafficking, strengthens investigative tools to track down and prosecute offenders, and enacts tougher sentencing provisions for domestic violence and sexual abuse offenses.
"I am very pleased with what we were able to accomplish this legislative session," said Governor Parnell. "I appreciate the Legislature's willingness to work with me to address these vital issues relating to the safety of our people."