Oil patch insider: Gialopsos replaces Feige; SOA to pay off oil, gas tax credits; more….
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Akis Gialopsos, aide to former Sen. Cathy Giessel, a strong supporter of the oil and gas industry, was appointed by Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy to take the place of outgoing Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige.
Gialopsos becomes acting commissioner effective July 1. Currently, he serves as deputy chief of staff and legislative director for the governor.
“I know from his time on my staff that Akis Gialopsos has both the management skills, and knowledge of resource development issues to run the department effectively,” Dunleavy said.
In a June 24 press release from the governor’s office Gialopsos’ past experience was described as, “chief of staff to the president of the Alaska State Senate during the 31st Alaska Legislature. Prior to that, Gialopsos served as the committee aide to the Senate Resources Committee for the 29th and 30th Alaska Legislatures.”
A lifelong Alaskan, Gialopsos was born and raised in Anchorage, where he attended Gladys Wood Elementary and Dimond High School before moving to Greece and receiving his diploma.
He later studied at the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
- KAY CASHMAN
Alaska to pay off oil & gas tax creditsAlaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy signed the FY23 state operating and capital budgets into law on June 28 that he said will pay off Alaska’s lingering oil and gas tax credits, honoring the state’s commitment to pay off debt abandoned by a previous administration
Dunleavy also said the budget invests in areas such as public safety, education and infrastructure.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, an Anchorage Democrat, said Alaska “can move forward with this budget.”
House Speaker Louise Stutes, a Kodiak Republican who leads a bipartisan House coalition, in a statement said while she was disappointed that there were “vetoes to projects and grants that really matter to Alaskans, I was pleased that the governor agreed with the work our coalition did in crafting a budget that prioritizes funding education, public safety, other essential services, and that puts money towards savings.”
The press release from the governor’s office said the spending plan “moves Alaska into a new direction with prudent and fiscally responsible investments in public safety, public education, the University of Alaska, and infrastructure projects that create jobs and economic development. It accomplishes all that while saving $1.6 billion dollars of the budget surplus to shield the economy when oil prices eventually decline. In addition, the budget includes a historical 2022 Permanent Fund Dividend for every eligible Alaskan.”
Protecting all AlaskansProtecting Alaskans has been Dunleavy’s number one public policy priority since taking office in December 2018.
* The budget authorizes 10 new Alaska State and Wildlife Troopers and 10 Village Public Safety Officer positions.
* Higher salaries for VPSOs and Troopers to attract the most qualified and motivated candidates to a career in law enforcement.
* New housing for public safety officers in rural communities.
* Additional funding to hire more criminal prosecutors and support staff.
* Creates a Crisis Stabilization Center test program to treat Alaskans experiencing a mental health crisis.
Public education* The FY23 budget not only increases funding for Alaska’s public school and university systems; it also brings long-overdue accountability for students’ and parents’ sake.
* $117 million investment in education, including funds dedicated to the Alaska Reads Act, a comprehensive reading intervention program so all students can read at grade level by the end of third grade. Increased resources include $57 million in one-time funds to schools, $2.5 million for Pre-K and an increase to the BSA.
* The Alaska Reads Act will be culturally responsive to rural and Alaska Native students.
* Forward funds K-12 education in FY24 with $1.2 billion.
* Delivers tax relief for local taxpayers by funding school bond debt reimbursement.
* Enhancements to Alaska’s student loan program.
* Innovative research in drone technology, critical minerals, heavy oil, and mariculture at the University of Alaska.
Investing in infrastructure* Funds critical repairs to the Port of Alaska.
* Invests in a new deep-water port in Nome - a strategic Arctic port for the United States.
* Upgrades and improvements for multiple airports across the state.
* Funds repairs for roads and bridges statewide.
*$117.3 million in state and federal funds for the Village Safe Water program, so more rural communities have safe, clean drinking water and sanitation.
* Sets state on course to pay off oil tax credits once and for all by this year.
* Invests in the Alaska Marine Highway System with a new mainline vessel and maintenance funds to keep ships on the water serving coastal communities.
Fiscal responsibilityDunleavy “carefully examined” the increased spending made by lawmakers this year. His objective was to preserve the temporary surplus from higher oil revenues to the greatest extent possible. Reductions were made without harming essential state services. The line-item vetoes total $400 million, and those unspent funds will be deposited into the Constitutional Budget Reserve, or CBR, a rainy-day savings account for years when state revenues are down, the press release said.
* All state agency budgets other than public safety and education are down 10% from 2019.
* The FY23 budget deposits $1.6 billion in the CBR.
* The bottom line: Alaska’s CBR account balance increases from $1.3 billion to approximately $3 billion - enough to cover the state budget if oil prices collapse.
- KAY CASHMAN
Sullivan honors Alyeska’s Jeff StreitOn the floor of the U.S. Senate June 23, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, recognized Jeff Streit of Fairbanks, the longest-serving employee of the Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. that operates and maintains the 800-mile-long Trans Alaska Pipeline System.
At the same time Alyeska is celebrating the 45th anniversary of TAPS, which was built in just three years and has moved more than 17 billion barrels of oil.
Streit’s career with TAPS spanned 48 years, beginning in 1974 when he was one of the 70,000 individuals who had a part in building the engineering marvel.
Since working on TAPS construction, Streit worked for Alyeska as a technician at three pump stations, as a task force supervisor, as a project supervisor, as a pump station operations supervisor, as a pipeline technician trainer and much more.
He was recognized as part of Sullivan’s series, “Alaskan of the Week.”
- PETROLEUM NEWS
Brune appointed to Permanent Fund boardOn June 24 Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the appointment of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jason Brune to the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees.
Brune will replace outgoing DNR Commissioner Corri Feige.
Brune joined the Dunleavy administration in December 2018. He has served in a variety of roles in both the public and private sectors, including one of Alaska’s regional Native corporations.
The appointment takes effect on July 1.