This time of year, the Alaska Legislature receives plenty of guests on “fly-in” receptions. Groups like the Alaska Chamber of Commerce and the Bristol Bay Borough arrive by jet, stopping in Juneau for a few days to talk with Legislators about the issues that matter to them most.
Last week, one group arrived with the name of their organization emblazoned on the side of a jet.
For Alaska Airlines, one of the biggest issues is the state’s planned hike in fuel taxes, something that would significantly affect the company’s operations in Alaska, said Joseph Sprague, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of communications and external affairs.
“We are very concerned with (House Bill 249),” he told members of the Alaska House Transportation committee, which is considering the measure.
That bill would raise the state’s tax on jet fuel from 3.2 cents per gallon to 10 cents per gallon. The tax on aviation gas would rise from 4.7 cents per gallon to 10 cents per gallon. Also within HB 249 are increases to the state’s gasoline taxes, but those are rising to a lesser degree than the taxes on aviation.
Combined, the tax increases will raise about $49 million per year to help close the state’s annual deficit, which is between $3.5 billion and $4 billion per year.
The aviation tax increase is at least partially the work of the state’s aviation advisory board, which favors a larger tax increase in place of a smaller increase and a rise in the landing fees charged at some state airports.
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