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Juneau – Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) intends to file legislation this week to stop a large oil company subsidy that increases the budget deficit. The bill has been filed with the House Clerk and will be officially introduced on Wednesday.
“Alaskans pay roughly $14 million a year for oil companies to use the Dalton Highway,” said Rep. Gara. “I would choose stopping this subsidy over proposed cuts to needed help for deaf Alaskans, seniors battling dementia and the elimination of pre-kindergarten programs that help students succeed. Those cuts generate much smaller savings and harm Alaskans.”
The Dalton Highway, which is also known as the Haul Road, is a 414 mile gravel road to Prudhoe Bay. It was built to supply the oil facilities on the North Slope. The State of Alaska spends over $22 million a year on Dalton Highway maintenance and operations. The main users are oil producers, explorers and the owners of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Rep. Les Gara is proposing a fee only on oil leaseholders and the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company that would account for 60 percent of these costs, recognizing that there is also some use of the Dalton Highway by hunters, tourists, small businesses and other Alaskans that should not have to bear the cost of maintenance and operations.
“The non-partisan Legislative Finance Division confirms the Legislature could fire every state employee and only cover half the current $3.5 billion budget deficit. Cuts that harm children, job training, schools, disabled Alaskans and seniors will barely dent the deficit,” said Rep. Gara. “We have to come up with smart cuts and cutting unnecessary corporate subsidies should be part of the discussion.”
Rep. Gara supports significant spending reductions in an amount similar to the cuts proposed by Governor Bill Walker. Rep. Gara sits on the House Finance Committee, which is scheduled to begin deliberating the proposed FY 2016 budget next week.
“Cuts that adults and corporations can bear make more sense than cuts that hurt children, disabled Alaskans, seniors, schools, job training efforts and public access to information through public radio news,” said Rep. Gara. “We need to protect our economy and we embrace smart solutions.”
The legislation to charge a fee for oil leaseholders and the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company to use the Dalton Highway will be introduced on Wednesday. A copy of the bill is attached to this release.