SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Show me the money Governor
By Rep. John Harris


September 03, 2009

It's hard to believe it was barely a year ago when the legislature voted to suspend the state's eight-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline. Our new Governor Sean Parnell is now calling to continue the tax holiday past September 1, 2009. If he seriously wants to make it happen, he has the constitutional authority to call the legislature into special session at any time.

I can understand and appreciate anyone's desire to cut taxes. It's politically popular and offers an easy sound-bite ­ especially to folks in rural areas who are looking for meaningful help with high energy costs.

When the legislature voted to suspend the fuel tax, I was Speaker of the House and voted in favor of the bill. At that time, gasoline prices were over $4 per gallon at the pump, and the legislature was leading efforts to help lower energy costs in the short and long term.

The area I represent, House District 12, stretches from Palmer to Glennallen to Valdez and up to Delta Junction and Salcha. My wallet has been lightened at gas pumps over the 12 years that I've travelled back and forth to constituent meetings. No one would love to see prices lowered at the pump more, but the cost of maintaining the highways in these communities isn't going down either.

If Parnell can show us a plan for keeping up with the cost of maintaining roads, airports, docks, and other transportation infrastructure without the benefit of $40 million in revenues from motor fuel taxes, I will support his efforts.

Governors are responsible for making sure there's money in the budget for roads, public buildings, and infrastructure. There has to be a way to keep up with every-day wear and tear on them ­ especially because we're already falling behind on this. Our governor must take the lead.

We shouldn't go back to the late 1990's when legislators bragged about cutting budgets while ignoring maintenance and other basic costs. Short-term political gains from actions back then later came back to bite taxpayers ­ at a much higher cost.

Parnell must step up and offer more than sound-bites.


Reference note:

The motor fuel tax is imposed on all motor fuel sold, transferred or used within Alaska. Per gallon rates are eight cents for highway use, five cents for marine fuel, 4.7 cents for aviation gasoline, 3.2 cents for jet fuel, and eight cents or two cents for gasohol, depending on the season, location and EPA mandate. Motor fuel taxes are collected primarily from wholesalers and distributors licensed as qualified dealers. Various uses of fuel are exempt from tax, including fuel for heating or flights to or from a foreign country. All revenue derived from motor fuel taxes is deposited in the state general fund.

Federal excise taxes are 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel.


Legislative Council Chair Rep. John Harris, R-Valdez, represents House District 12, which stretches from Palmer to Glennallen to Valdez and up to Delta Junction and Salcha.

Received September 01, 2009 - Published September 03, 2009


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska