The backers of a ballot initiative to hike oil and gas taxes on large, legacy fields in Alaska announced last week that it had launched its first major ad campaign, a radio campaign in Juneau, Anchorage and Fairbanks.
The spend is the group’s first appearance on the airwaves, a space that has already been dominated by the industry-supported opposition group, One Alaska, that has already been buying up plenty of ad time with more than $1.6 million spent according to reports filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.
The ad buy by Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share clocks in at $74,000 but there’s more reason for it to be a notable spend. The firm the group hired is Porcaro Communications, which handled much of the $11-million-plus pro-industry ad buy to defend the 2013 Senate Bill 21 from repeal.
In a prepared statement Mark Hopkin, the president of Porcaro Communications said his firm has and continues to be a supporter of the oil industry but now sees Senate Bill 21 as a “disaster for Alaska.”
“Our firm has a history of supporting the oil industry, and we continue to be great supporters of oil exploration and production in Alaska,” he said. “But SB 21 has been a disaster for Alaska, and the future of our state depends on getting a deal that’s fair for the industry and the state. We feel honored to play a part in that.”
The state of Alaska is expected to face a nearly $1 billion deficit next year (if a $1,000 dividend is paid) thanks in part to the coronavirus pandemic that has pushed down oil prices and hurt the state’s investment income made through the Alaska Permanent Fund. With Gov. Mike Dunleavy responding with vetoes to K-12 education funding and payments to local governments, which has resulted in property tax hikes, the question of new income has gained renewed traction.
Initial projections by the pro-tax group put new revenue from the initiative near $1 billion, a number that would conveniently take care of the deficit while also protecting a dividend. It’s likely that that number has changed with the pandemic-driven slump in oil and cuts in production, though it’s unclear how long this low-price, lower-production condition will last. While opponents doubt the number, the group has grabbed onto that connection to the dividend.
“Believe it or not, Alaskans are getting a worse deal for our oil now than back when all those politicians were taking bribes. In the past few years, an Alaska family of four has lost $28,000 in dividends as ConocoPhillips raised its dividend three times and paid its CEO over $80,000… per day!” explains one ad buy. “Save your dividends, vote yes for Alaska’s fair share.”
Believe it or not:
Give it a chance: