Please Vote Yes on Alaska's Ballot Measure 1

It's our oil! Vote yes and
repeal the giveaway. (source)
I won't mince words. I want Ballot Measure 1 to pass in the election this Tuesday more than I want any other result in 2014's elections.

In my view, Tuesday's vote on Ballot Measure 1 is a question that will massively impact my future, my family's, and that of all Alaskans. A no vote will put that future at risk, threatening the Alaska state government's fiscal solvency and calling its independent democracy into question. A yes vote will put Alaska back on track, preserve the state's finances, and affirm Alaskans' political independence from monied outside interests.

Ballot Measure 1 proposes the repeal of SB 21, also called the "More Alaska Production Act," signed into law last June. The numbers have been sliced a thousand ways by the opposing sides on the issue, but stated as simply as possible, SB 21 was a package of massive tax cuts. As it stands now, SB 21 will save oil companies billions of dollars that they would have otherwise paid to the state of Alaska.

That money could have paid for infrastructure, transportation, education, public safety, social services, land and resource management, and everything else the state provides, all without needing to impose state income or sales taxes on regular Alaskans. With oil taxes slashed, that could change.

Sean Parnell even threatened that citizens
merely proposing Ballot Measure 1 would
damage "jobs and opportunities"
SB 21 was proposed and vigorously promoted by Governor Sean Parnell, a former director of government relations for ConocoPhillips (Alaska's largest oil producer), a partner in the firm Patton Boggs, which represents Exxon Mobil in Alaska, and a man so closely tied to the oil industry one article proposes for him the title "Manchurian Governor."

SB 21 also passed through the Alaska state senate with the votes of two ConocoPhillips employees—Peter Micciche and Kevin Meyer. They presided over committees handling the bill, but attempted to recuse themselves from the final vote. Following senate rules, however, an objection from another legislator overturned their recusal and allowed them to vote. Along with two senators whose spouses are closely tied to the oil industry, and seven others who were swayed by the governor's plan, SB 21 passed the state senate 11 to 9.

Once SB 21 passed, regular Alaskans went into action quickly, gathering well over 50,000 signatures supporting a ballot measure to repeal the law when they only needed 30,000.

Oil companies and their allied interests went into action as well, and they've spent millions of dollars now telling Alaskans to vote no on Ballot Measure 1—one hundred times the amount of money that the "vote yes" campaign has been able to spend. You can see it clearly around Ketchikan, with many fancy "vote no" signs for those who will put them up, but few "vote yes" signs around, simply because they aren't available. Many committed Alaskans have created their own homemade signs supporting Ballot Measure 1.

Now, I certainly don't blame the oil companies for spending this money. As the law stands, they're free to make all the donations they want to promote voting a certain way. And indeed, SB 21 (and a no vote on Ballot Measure 1) will serve their interests. It helps them attain billions more dollars in profits. Several million spent on political advertising is nothing by comparison.

I just hope that the majority of Alaskans will see that while SB 21 serves oil companies' interests, it doesn't serve theirs.

Alaska constitution writer and
"founding father" Vic Fischer helped
lead the fight to create Ballot Measure 1
Many Alaskans from every walk of life and from every location on the political spectrum have spoken out against SB 21 and in favor of Ballot Measure 1: There are engineering professors, dialogue leaders, former Division of Oil and Gas directors, and lifelong Alaskans; there are well-informed politicians like Republican representative Paul Seaton, my Republican senator Bert Stedman, and Democratic senator Hollis French; there are prominent Alaskans like state constitution writer Vic Fischer, former first lady Bella Hammond, and even Sarah Palin; and then there are media institutions that have endorsed the "yes" vote too, like the Juneau Empire and Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman. All these and many, many more have spoken out thoughtfully and written intelligently in favor of Ballot Measure 1.

Take a look at the articles I've provided links to. Think about the issues at hand. Acknowledge the big oil companies' interests in preserving SB 21's tax cuts and ensuring greater profits for themselves. Then, vote for your own interests. Please vote yes on Ballot Measure 1.

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