Put the politics away



Published:

Now that the book’s been written on the 2012 political season, lets hope the legislators heading to Juneau can finally get on the same page.

Over the past couple of years, the issue of oil taxation has dominated debate in the capital. Democrats say they want to spur production by giving producers a tax break contingent upon exploration, while Republicans are in favor of a plan that helps producers up front. The idea behind this philosophy, they argue, is that oil companies need to be able to count on taxes before they can start looking for new fields and digging deeper into existing ones.

Both sides say they’re in favor of getting more of Alaska’s most precious resources to market. They agree that oil production is diminishing at a dangerous rate, and that the state’s finances depend on reversing that trend. Both say they believe something needs to be done to address what has been characterized as burdensome taxes on the producers. Both say their idea is the right one.

And there’s the rub.

Although seemingly everyone in Juneau seems to want lower taxes on oil companies and more development, nobody has been willing thus far to reach across the aisle and make a deal. Instead, they’ve dug in their heels in hopes of getting their plan pushed through — compromise be damned.

We can’t help but wonder why our elected officials have been so unwilling to reach common ground. Are politics to blame? Is it possible some members of the Legislature have been inflexible in order to make themselves look better come election time? Let’s hope not. Perhaps those legislators — on both sides — who have been outspoken on the issue truly have the best interests of Alaskans in mind when they fight so passionately for their cause.

We’d love to think that our state legislators want nothing more than to help this state grow and prosper. But if that’s really, truly the case, you’d think something would have been done by now.

It’s time to stop fighting and start finding solutions to the state’s most pressing economic issue. We can’t afford to wait much longer.

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