In a May 24 letter to Gov. Bill Walker, the Alaska Trucking Association has withdrawn his support for the governor's proposed increase to the fuel tax. The letter, signed by ATA Executive Director Aves Thompson, is excerpted here:
"During ATA’s visit with you during our Annual Legislative Fly-In on February 2, 2016, we discussed your proposal to increase fuel taxes and specifically, a motor fuel tax increase that would double the motor fuel tax from $.08 to $.16. We told you that we support the motor fuel tax as part of the larger fiscal and budget package. As a major payer of the motor fuel tax, we felt it important for you to have our input.
"I quote from our published 2016 Legislative Priorities: 'One of the ATA Legislative Priorities for 2016 is the development of a balanced, durable long term fiscal plan, utilizing cuts to state government, use of the permanent fund earnings and taxes, if required. The fuel tax increase, as We believe that proposed in SB123 and HB249, is acceptable within the framework of a long term fiscal plan. action is critical this legislative session.'
“The Alaska Trucking Association has long supported a fuel tax increase if the funds could be dedicated to transportation needs. We realize that this won’t happen in this bill but feel strongly that we need to help to resolve the fiscal issues by doing our part.
"We told you and many legislators during our February 2, visit and in my later testimony before both House and Senate Transportation Committees that our support of the motor fuel tax increase was contingent on being part of the larger plan described in our Legislative Priorities.
It is our observation that there have been negligible reductions in state spending, no agreement on the use of Permanent Funds to fill the budget gap and now the order of the day seems to be to increase taxes on businesses and individuals throughout our state.
"In our view, this is not acceptable and therefore we withdraw our support for a motor fuel tax increase and will testify our opposition to Legislative Committees that hear the currently proposed tax bill."
The governor's doubling of the fuel tax is part of his massive tax bill, HB 4001, introduced at the beginning of special session on Monday. The bill contains seven taxes, taking from income, fish, fuel, pot, alcohol, tobacco, and mining.