Diversifying our economy is key to creating a healthy and sustainable Alaskan economy. Over the past six years, I have supported a variety of initiatives to create a positive business climate in Alaska, streamline regulations, expand access to natural resources and build critical infrastructure. I strongly believe we must find additional ways to support our local businesses, provide a living wage for and build a strong Alaskan workforce.
Legislation to spur and develop Alaska business
I have sponsored and supported legislation giving small businesses access to loan assistance that will help them grow and put more Alaskans to work. Last year, I co-sponsored legislation that included a number of provisions to spur and develop the business climate through the extension of the Alaska Film Production Incentive Program, created oil & gas exploration credits for challenging basins, exempted certain small businesses from corporate income tax and provided credits for natural gas storage. Additionally I sponsored Senate Bill 136, which passed the House and Senate unanimously. This bill was a win-win for businesses and veterans because it provided tax credits for businesses hiring unemployed veterans.
I also authored Senate Bill 220, which created an energy policy for Alaska. I supported legislation to authorize the Alaska Energy Authority to continue work on the Susitna (Watana) hydroelectric project in an effort to provide affordable power to families and businesses in the Railbelt (SB 42); I also supported legislation to create a loan fund for businesses to upgrade their energy efficiency (SB 32), to expand the powers of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to foster greater economic development and energy production, and to create new state loan funds to assist Alaskans with commercial fishing, sport fish charter and mariculture businesses.
The Fuel of Our Economy
Oil fuels Alaska’s economy, generating more than 110,000 Alaskan jobs and producing generous dividends for each Alaskan. As we continue to see North Slope production on the decline, we need to spur new development on both state and federal lands and water. This year I introduced Senate Joint Resolution 5 to urge the United States Congress to provide revenue to Alaska that is generated from oil and gas development on the outer continental shelf. Under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, the federal government recognized the contributions to national security made by the oil producing state of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and agreed to distribute to those states 37.5 percent of revenue generated from oil and gas development in newly leased federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Over the years since statehood, federal oil and gas lease sales from the outer continental shelf off Alaska’s coast have generated billions of dollars in revenue for the federal government. It is only fair that Alaska receives the same revenue sharing from drilling offshore as other states do.