Unveiling Brena's falsehoods about Ballot Measure 1 - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, September 24, 2020
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Unveiling Brena’s falsehoods about Ballot Measure 1

By JEANINE ST. JOHN

It’s time for supporters of Ballot Measure 1 to come straight with Alaska.

For months now, they have been feeding Alaskans one mistruth after another in an effort to trick us into voting for their dangerous oil tax initiative.

The latest assault on the truth came a few days ago when Robin Brena, the initiative’s chief sponsor, termed our current oil tax structure “the largest oil resource giveaway in Alaska’s history.”

The dictionary defines “giveaway” as something given for free, and I suspect it would surprise the producers to learn they are producing “our” oil for free. The fact is oil has paid for 85-90% of our budget for the past 40 years.

The producers paid Alaska about $3 billion each year in taxes and royalties the last couple of years. That’s far from the “nothing” Brena says oil companies pay –and twice as much as all other businesses combined. You can find the true details on the State’s website.

Brena repeatedly says we are not getting “our fair share.” That isn’t what the experts say. Independent economists tell us that our current oil taxes are about in the middle of our national and international peers and that the initiative would make Alaska among the highest rate of government take in the world. 

A just-released report from a group of highly respected international analysts examined “Alaska’s Competitiveness in Global Oil and Gas Markets.”

Their conclusion: “Alaska’s competitiveness deteriorates under Ballot Measure 1 as commodity prices increase. At prices above $60/bbl Alaska’s proposed fiscal system is the least competitive within the international peer group.” 

These analysts, who are trusted advisors to the world’s largest companies, say it’s bad for business to keep changing the tax structure. “Since 2006 the Alaskan oil and gas fiscal system has undergone frequent changes, resulting in fiscal instability and loss of investor confidence in the state.”

But back to Brena’s recent commentary. “Prudhoe Bay,” he says “is one of the most profitable, conventional oil fields in the world. It can easily support paying Alaskans a fair share without impacting investment or jobs.”

If Prudhoe is so profitable, why did BP sell it for a bargain price? Why are there so many rigs stacked idle on the North Slope instead of drilling for oil?

Brena likes to go on and on about ConocoPhillips’ profits. Here’s what he doesn’t tell you. ConocoPhillips reinvests every penny of Alaska earnings right back into Alaska. In 2019 the company made $1.5 billion in Alaska and it spent $1.5 billion in Alaska. So much for Alaska being ConocoPhillips’ “cash cow.”

The numbers are right there in their annual report, which is posted on their website. The fact is ConocoPhillips is the kind of partner Alaska desperately needs right now.

But the biggest whopper of all – and he said it again the other day in his newspaper commentary – is that “Ballot Measure 1 will help the overall economy of Alaska,” add “11,000 new jobs” and not hurt investment.

Well, we’ve been there, done that under ACES – and we’re still paying the price. Even though oil prices were over $100/barrel, investment lagged, exploration came to a halt and jobs disappeared. Alaska was the only oil state to actually lose production.  Ballot Measure 1 raises taxes even higher than during ACES.

The Vote No side is held to a higher standard for truth telling, and consequently bends over backward to use public information to support its claims. They acknowledge that Alaskans are not likely to give the benefit of the doubt to industry groups, and will be called upon to provide proof of their statements.

Brena makes no such effort and is rarely called on it. As such, much of what he says is flat out false. He knows he can get away with it. 

If passed, Ballot Measure One will further devastate our economy, lead to even more lost jobs and shrink future PFDs.

That is the truth Brena is so desperate to conceal, because most rational Alaskans would quickly conclude that upending our largest economic driver for something that won’t come remotely close to fixing our problem is a very, very bad idea. 

Jeanine St. John, Vice President at Lynden Logistics, and President of the Resource Development Council Board of Directors

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  • I don’t agree with ballot measure 1, but to say we’re midlevel with taxing is not true; we’re more mid- to low-middle and we should increase 5% to 7%. to bring us more in line. Maybe if we did this then we could avoid Ballot Measure 1 and the additional 7% would pay for what is being taken from the PFD.

    • Never happen, Robert. PFD cuts are here to stay. All of the additional state revenue under Prop 1 is targeted for the growth of state government. A Left-wing legislature will appropriate to that end.

      • When exactly has Alaska had a “left-wing legislature?”
        Not prescribing to “Dunleavy think” does not make one left leaning.

        • Uhhhh………..how about when Edgmon was running the House and Giessel was running the Senate. Edgmon, a Democrat disguised as an Independent. Giessel openly parading as the Queen, not the Republican that she claimed to be. Coghill her personal consort. Both Giessel and Coghill tossed on their arses. Then, there was a traitor named Gary Knopp, another Democrat disguised as a Republican, who threw the entire legislature on its head. Nature has a way of re-establishing equilibrium…….even in politics. Unfortunately, in Knopp’s case, there was collateral damage. Byron Mallott lived through part of his collateral damage, but not long enough to see the ADN attempting to cover-up the truth.
          Alaskans are not at all as stupid as many Democrats wished they were.

          • This insinuation that Giessel and Coghill were anything but Republicans is laughable.

            Knopp wasn’t a traitor, he was a realist. That whole debacle rests on three people, Pruitt, Wilson and Eastman. I get that’s not what was portrayed on this site at the time, but I do believe I read an article on here a few weeks ago laying some of the blame on Eastman.

            As far as your claim to know the truth on the Mallot cover up, seems everyone is just speculating at this point, but ok.

            I’m still struggling on the left leaning legislature claim. Did the house lean left, maybe. We didn’t see much in the way of left leaning policy come out of the House. And the Senate was Republican led, was it “Dunleavy Republican”, no. Those policies just didn’t add up to most Republicans when faced with the real numbers.

            We do have a freshman class of Republicans running in the general that have made similar promises to our current Governor. Lots of promises have been made by this group, I’m hoping they’re more informed on Alaska’s fiscal issues then I think they are.

          • Yes, we’re not fighting or begging the oil companies…They are paying us their amount. It’s the greedy binding caucus legislators who want it for their pet projects…

          • With the queen gone and no place to wear her crown about, the binding caucus will become more of a relic in the legislative annals. It won’t fly.

          • Really, Union? Just ask the majority of Republican voters in Giessel’s and Coghill’s districts whether THEY think that Giessel and Coghill we’re Republicans or RINO’s.

    • The GOP are trying to do away with the PF dividends.

  • What is Brena’s beef with the oil industry? Someone please explain this to me.
    Maybe a better question is, what’s in it for Brena if the measure passes?

    • I agree, Kevin. I am straining to find out how Brena benefits. He has the same data as we have. He knows he is misleading. But to what end? Is there a longer game at play to decimate the oil industry in Alaska?
      A lot of questions these days, I know. Covid death numbers were our focus in March. And we would have laughed if someone said we’d be obsessively concerned with how many had it one day, instead of deaths. But here we are. To what end?
      The answer is out there. Anyone?

    • If the measure passes, the oilies have two choices: Either pull up stakes and decamp to Texas and South Dakota or fight it in court. As they still have a lot of infrastructure in place, they will fight it in court for a while. Brena is a lawyer who has made his living on suing the oilies. Force them into court and he will be employed and very well fed for decades, most certainly well past the remaining time he has on this Earth. His kids, grandkids and the rest of us who get to pick up the pieces afterwards? Not so much. Cheers –

  • This measure is meant to crash the Alaskan economy. It is made to increase the Alaskan population dependence on assistance. I am curious as to what Outside funding or consulting Brena’s cause has received.

  • When faced with ballot measures where the end result is unclear or confusing or it seems we are not getting clear information I usually vote no. Plus attempting to increase the income to the state from an already taxed resource…before we make needed cuts seems like feeding the beast.

  • Bill Walker’s law partner. Now you know!

  • I wonder if the people who are voting yes on this think they will get their full PFD? Of course that won’t happen! I plan to vote no because until we fix all the other problems adding more taxes will only make things worse and we have so many problems and Covid sure hasn’t helped.

  • If Alaska lawmakers have totally blown through all they were given, with very little to show for all the money that was spent, what is the logic that represents the possibility that they will do better if you were to make it so they could collect more?

  • If you think the same people that want this to pass want YOU to have YOUR PFD- then you are nuts. They want your PFD and the oil companies revenue as well. This is all about cash for government so that a few people in power will have a leash on the masses.

  • I do not want the oil industry to pay more to the State of Alaska. I do not want to personally pay any tax to the State. I DO want the State to give me and everyone else in my family a full PFD check every year. As big as possible. So, now I just need to find that $3 billion of fat in the budget that we can cut in 2021 to make it all balance. I just need your assistance identifying the first billion that should be cut. Help. Be a real fiscal conservative — and no more borrowing.

  • Stop Alaska Big Oil and the GOP from looting the taxpayer and from looting the budget reserve.

    • When it’s obvious someone didn’t read the article, but needed to go ad hominem because someone must have ran out of reason long ago…

  • More oil tax money to the state means more money to Brena’s law firm…….and more personal wealth to Brena and his corrupt law partner, Bill Walker. The Brena/Walker Law Firm will receive a lion’s share of the legal business in drafting municipal requests, and acting as representatives for municipalities, in obtaining portions of their new oil dollars. Their law firm will be the “go to firm.” It’s part of law firm prestige. Bill Walker knows this. Our corrupt ex-governor was the former mayor of Valdez. Oil taxes from Alyeska poured into his town. The Walker Law Office in Valdez drafted the contracts and helped negotiate the rates for local property taxation which was levied against the pipeline by the Valdez Port Authority. Bill Walker is a skunk, corrupt attorney and disgraced former governor. He sits behind the scenes in the Brena Law Firm, helping drive Prop 1. He also sits behind the scenes helping direct his former COS Scott Kendall run the Recall Dunleavy campaign. Bill Walker is a true coward and the most crooked governor Alaska has ever had. He should be charged and jailed for his crimes and disbarred. He ran successfully as an Independent in 2014, because the Republicans wouldn’t have him. He ended up with a sleazy, child molesting Democrat named Byron Mallott. Together, they fooled the majority of Alaskans. Fool us no more. Vote NO on Prop 1. Send Bill Walker straight to jail.

  • The field of economics has long taught that if you tax something you get less of it.

    That should be clear enough for most everyone to understand

  • I say no new taxes until a legislator and state city department heads put a halt to spending money that they do not have.

  • Shell lost billions drilling in the Arctic. Do those risky bets that didn’t pay off get counted when tallying how much profit oil companies make? No. Only the successes get counted by the people crying that big oil is making a killing. That’s the problem with their math.

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