A consortium of four Alaska business groups recently issued a report card on Alaska lawmakers to assist voters in adjudging how responsive the legislative and executive branches are to the needs of the business community, and Alaska State Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) has been on a nonstop bitchfest ever since, most likely because he received a letter grade of F. Rep. Gara has published essentially the same complaints in the Anchorage Daily News, and Alaska Dispatch.
Rep. Gara characterizes it as a fake report card designed to pressure legislators into toeing a more corporate-friendly line during the upcoming 2012 session. He portrays the Alaska Chamber of Commerce as a sockpuppet for big business, noting that their biggest donors are Exxon, British Petroleum and ConocoPhillips. He disputes his own letter grade of F, explaining that he has supported legislation that would bring more North Slope energy jobs, citing HB231 as an example of how companies earn a lower rate if they explore in new fields, build processing facilities to put new oil into the pipeline, and/or increase drilling activity. Rep. Gara claims that investment and hiring are up by 40 percent since 2006 under Alaska's current law, which is based upon incentives that lower the tax rate if one invests in Alaska.
On November 12th, the Alaska Chamber of Commerce fired back. While its Chair, Renee Schofield, acknowledged that oil companies are the largest financial contributors to the chamber, she noted that each member of the chamber, regardless of income or size, gets only one vote. The outcome of the recent Alaska Business Report Card Midterm Grade Luncheon in Anchorage further supports her contention; out of the 90 Alaska Chamber members present, only seven of them represented oil, gas or refining businesses. This theme is also echoed in the Anchorage Daily Planet's own commentary.
The four business groups collaborating on the Alaska Business Report Card are the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, the Resource Development Council, the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, and Prosperity Alaska. All except for ASIA are listed as part of the Make Alaska Competitive Coalition. Legislators and the governor were graded on fiscal responsibility, litigation reform, oil tax reform, general business climate, regulatory streamlining, and strategic infrastructure. Actions of the policy makers that were evaluated included bill sponsorships, committee actions such as as debate and amendments, committee votes, overall leadership in and out of the legislature, and floor votes. Read a more complete description of the methodology HERE.
Categorical and individual letter grades follow after the jump:
Categorical Grades: Governor Sean Parnell: B+ Senate Majority: F Senate Minority: B+ House Majority: A- House Minority: D Individual Senate Grades: John Coghill (R-Fairbanks): B+ Bettye Davis (D-Anchorage): D Fred Dyson (R-Eagle River): B+ Dennis Egan (D-Juneau): D Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage): D- Hollis French (D-Anchorage): F Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage): A+ Lyman Hoffman (D-Bethel): D- Charlie Huggins (R-Palmer): A Albert Kookesh (D-Angoon): D- Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage): B- Linda Menard (R-Wasilla): B- Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage): B- Donald Olson (D-Nome): D Joe Paskvan (D-Fairbanks): D Bert Stedman (R-Sitka): F Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak): F Joe Thomas (D-Fairbanks): C Thomas Wagoner (R-Kenai): B- Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage): F Individual House Grades: Alan Austerman (R-Kodiak): D+ Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski): A+ Sharon Cissna (D-Anchorage): D Mia Costello (R-Anchorage): A Alan Dick (R-Stony River): B Mike Doogan (D-Anchorage): D- Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham): D- Anna Fairclough (R-Eagle River): A Eric Feige (R-Chickaloon): A+ Neal Foster (D-Nome): B- Les Gara (D-Anchorage): F Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage): F Carl Gatto (R-Palmer): B+ Max Gruenberg (D-Anchorage): D David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks): F Mike Hawker (R-Anchorage): A+ Bob Herron (D-Bethel): C- Lindsey Holmes (D-Anchorage): D+ Kyle Johansen (R-Ketchikan): B+ Craig Johnson (R-Anchorage): A+ Reggie Joule (D-Kotzebue): D+ Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks): F Wes Keller (R-Wasilla): B+ Beth Kerttula (D-Juneau): F Bob Lynn (R-Anchorage): B+ Bob Miller (D-Anchorage): D- Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage): B+ Cathy Munoz (R-Auke Bay): B- Mark Neuman (R-MatSu): B+ Kurt Olson (R-Kenai): A Pete Petersen (D-Anchorage): D- Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage): A Dan Saddler (R-Eagle River): A Paul Seaton (R-Homer): F Bill Stoltze (R-Chugiak/MatSu): A Bill Thomas Jr (R-Haines): B+ Steve Thompson (R-Fairbanks): A Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage): D- Peggy Wilson (R-Wrangell): B Tammie Wilson (R-North Pole): A