Industry groups oppose ship tax

Critics of Knowles' tax say it unfairly targets one industry

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2002

The Alaska Travel Industry Association announced Tuesday it will oppose Gov. Tony Knowles' proposal for a $30-per-passenger cruise ship tax.

A spokesman said it's been the long-standing position of the visitor industry that targeted industry taxes are not the solution to Alaska's deficit between income and spending.

"We realize the time is approaching where new revenue sources, including statewide taxes, might be considered to reduce the state's budget deficit," said association chairman Dale Fox. "When the Legislature agrees that the time has come, that revenue source must be broad-based, and not imposed upon a single entity or industry."

According to the association, a 1996 survey showed that industry businesses pay nearly $124 million in taxes and fees.

Association President Tina Lindgren said tourism already is facing a difficult year. The association in December asked the Legislature for $12.5 million for emergency marketing to cope with cancelations made in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks and Lower 48 recession.

"This is not the time to impose an additional $30 per person to visit our state," she said.

The Alaska State Chamber of Commerce also voiced its opposition to the tax proposal.

The chamber opposes the tax because it unfairly targets one industry, said Pamela La Bolle, president of the statewide business association.

"We're concerned when new revenues are sought, the first place everyone looks is business," La Bolle said. "We're the only ones that pay taxes at this point statewide and it seems we're easy to find."

Senate President Rick Halford, who has supported a state cruise tax, was not surprised by the position of the chamber, which has opposed targeted taxes in years past.

"Everybody that's afraid of being at the front of the line will continuously say I will go if everybody else goes, knowing that will never happen," said Halford, a Chugiak Republican.

Knowles estimated the tax would raise about $21 million, based on 700,000 passengers a year.

"It's only fair that every industry contribute something to Alaska for the many benefits that they receive here," he said last week.

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