Group says it has signatures for oil tax vote

Becky Bohrer, Associated Press

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) -- The group seeking to repeal an oil tax cut in Alaska said Friday that it has enough signatures to get the proposal on next year's primary ballot.

"Vote Yes — Repeal the Giveaway" said it plans to turn the signatures in to the Division of Elections on Saturday, the deadline for doing so. The group needed just over 30,000 signatures, with those coming from a certain percentage of voters in at least 30 House districts. The group believes it has more than enough qualified voters to get the measure on the ballot. The group, in a news release, said it had gathered more than 40,000 signatures from across Alaska.

The division will review the signatures and the petition must be certified or denied within 60 days of filing, director Gail Fenumiai said.

If it qualifies, the measure will be on the same ballot featuring the gubernatorial primary. Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, who championed the tax cut, has announced plans to seek re-election.

Only three referenda have ever appeared on the ballot in Alaska, according to the Division of Elections, and just one, in 2000, passed. That rejected a law allowing hunters to use aircraft to land and shoot wolves on the same day they fly.

Critics of the oil tax cut fear it will devastate Alaska's budget, with no guarantee the state will see the kind of investment it wants as a result.

Supporters, however, believe the change will lead to more oil production. During the legislative debate earlier this year, supporters argued that they needed to do something to address the long-standing trend of declining production in the state.