JUNEAU, Alaska – Oil has long been king in Alaska, but the state’s Republican governor is having trouble finding support for a tax break he believes is critical to ensuring it remains so.

With a stunning defeat in the state Legislature this week, Gov. Sean Parnell has failed twice since last year to reduce production taxes on oil companies, a strategy he believes is crucial to bringing in new companies and ensuring those already here invest more and boost North Slope production. That would ensure Alaska’s financial lifeline remains healthy for years to come.

Oil accounts for roughly 90 percent of unrestricted state revenue in the resource-rich state. It has helped make possible yearly dividend checks that Alaskans get just for living in the state. And recent flush years have created budget surpluses.

What’s unusual in Parnell’s defeats is that lawmakers from both parties, particularly this year, showed little stomach for his plans, albeit for differing reasons. Some saw the recent tax-cut plan as a corporate giveaway or unneeded by oil companies that consistently post huge profits; others, including some in his own party, say Parnell’s bill was ill-conceived or poorly explained.

The latest setback came Wednesday, when Parnell abruptly announced in a rare live appearance on a TV newscast that he was removing his oil tax bill from consideration by lawmakers. The surprise move — unprecedented in Alaska — came just eight days into a special legislative session that he had sought mainly to deal with the issue.

He blamed the bipartisan-controlled Senate, which he said appeared incapable of passing “comprehensive oil tax reform.”

After sometimes combative hearings, especially in the Senate, lawmakers in both chambers said the administration hadn’t made its case. To many, it remained unclear, for example, how many barrels of new oil the state would see produced under Parnell’s plan, or when Alaska might break even on any tax breaks it gives.

A legislative consultant said Parnell’s approach would wind up giving oil companies “quite a lot” of money for projects that are profitable to do today.