Blog Posts > Diapering the Devil – It’s Time to Raise the Natural Gas Severance Tax
August 23, 2019

Diapering the Devil – It’s Time to Raise the Natural Gas Severance Tax

West Virginians have something to learn from Alaskans. Several years ago, Jay Hammond, the Republican governor of Alaska from 1974-1982, wrote a memoir called “Diapering the Devil,” about how Alaska turned its rich oil assets into an everlasting source of wealth by creating the Alaska Permanent Fund.

During the 1970s, when Hammond was asked how much he should tax oil in Alaska, he said, “for every cent we can possibly get … after all, just as it is the obligation of oil company CEOs to maximize benefits for their stockholders, so is it the obligation of the state’s CEO to do the same for his.” Moreover, Hammond argued that, instead of beginning with moderate rates of taxation and then later increasing the rates, Alaska should have started out with a “99 percent severance tax and worked our way slowly down until we started to get vibrations.”

Today, Alaska’s Permanent Fund, valued at $66.3 billion dollars, is run by a state-owned corporation. In 2017, it paid a $1,100 dividend to every state resident, for a total of $696 million, money that went right back into the local economy when many Alaskans went shopping. A 2016 study found that the dividend reduced poverty by 20 percent in Alaska.

Read Ted’s full op-ed which appeared in this week’s Charleston Gazette-Mail.

SNAP Benefits Vital to West Virginia Families

Please take a moment to comment on a proposed change to a key SNAP (food stamps) rule which, if implemented, would take away basic food assistance from an estimated 3.1 million people, mainly working families with children, seniors, and individuals with disabilities.

SNAP helps struggling West Virginia families put food on the table for their kids. Please comment today! Comments due September 23.

Policies to Build Stronger Communities

At a time when federal policies are creating widespread fear and harming people who are undocumented, states can choose a better path for more inclusive communities and stronger economies. This week, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released its report which lays out policy recommendations for states to adopt including:

  • Allowing all residents to obtain driver’s licenses
  • Giving in-state tuition rates to all immigrants regardless of status
  • Enforcing labor & wage laws
  • Extending health coverage to all kids regardless of status

Read the full report.

What We Are Reading

On Sunday, the New York Times unveiled “The 1619 Project” in its Sunday magazine that features several deeply informative and in depth articles about the brutal impact 250 years of slavery and the racial apartheid that followed has had on America’s economy, criminal justice system, and more. Each article is a must read! The Pulitzer Center has also put together a reading guide for scholars, teachers, and others to engage with the 1619 Project.

Twitter Highlights from @WVCBP

From Thursday: Today marks #BlackWomensEqualPayDay the date to which black women must work into a new year to make what their male counterparts made in one year.

From Wednesday: @KenWard groundbreaking story highlights the “Opportunity Zone” surrounding @The_Greenbrier This year @wvlegislature & @WVGovernor doubled down on these tax cuts by piggybacking state income tax cuts for investors on top of OZs with significant potential costs to WV taxpayers.

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