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Ortiz: ‘What’s cap ex?’


A former high school teacher who represents Ketchikan in the Alaska House of Representatives admits he is a newcomer to tax policy.

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During Monday’s House Finance Committee, Rep. Daniel Ortiz, who taught economics at Ketchikan High School before having an out-sized influence over the state’s oil tax policy, struggled with basic economics terms.

During a presentation by oil and gas consultant Rich Ruggerio on the different factors that influence investment decisions in the energy sector, Ruggerio used the terms “cap ex” and “op ex,” which brought the question:

“Another greenhorn question: Cap ex and op ex. Tell me what they are and how they relate to this picture.” Ortiz asked Ruggerio.

After a short pause, Ruggerio responded:

“Cap ex is short for capital expenditures. Op ex is short for operating expenditures.”

To further understand “capital” and “operating,” and other basic economics terms important to understanding tax policy as it impacts oil in the pipeline, Must Read Alaska has found a handy set of flash cards.

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.


  1. This is by no means the only, nor is it the most incredible example, of on-the-job training that has taken place on House Finance last year and this year. We can hope progress and learning have taken place (although there is little evidence of that). On the other hand, the House Speaker is no more learned and qualified today than was the case two years ago.

  2. Unfortunately, the House Democrats and the governor have been focusing on number six in the flashcard list and should be spending more time engaging in number 5.

  3. Is it any wonder that Alaska always gets the short end of the stick when negotiating with the oil industry? Big oil has an army of Harvard educated tax attorneys formulating their arguments and Alaskans have – well, er, Ortiz and the rest of our legislators.

  4. As an educator, Mr. Ortiz would already be operating in a world of a couple of thousand acronyms, sometimes duplicated to different purposes.
    One does have to wonder what a legislative committee hearing might look like if EVERY legislator took time to be sure what was being said that they’re unsure of. I suspect it would go more slowly for some time, but the outcome might be better.
    I’m sure everyone that sat silently fully understood everything………8>)

  5. I have met Mr. Ortiz, when I was in Hyder the Canadians decided to lock us in by putting a gate across the road from midnight until 8 in the morning. It was an interesting meeting he was at the public library using the internet and seemed to be a nice fellow wanting to meet with the Canadians to see what could be done for us as our representative. He was there a few days as the float plane to Ketchikan only comes once a week. At any rate we need problem solvers in positions of responsibility. and is s start.

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