Truckers’ big economic clout
Truckers in Alaska put a lot of money into the economy. Data presented to state legislators in Juneau in early February by the Alaska Truck- ing Association showed that trucking companies paid $700 million in wages to employees in 2017 with an average salary of $56,250; there were 2,640 heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers employed that year in the state. In 2016 the industry paid $53 million in federal and state road- way taxes. Companies paid 43 percent of all taxes paid by Alaska motorists although trucks constituted only 9 percent of vehicle miles traveled in the state that year. As of April 2018 a typical five-axle tractor-semitrailer combination paid $8,906 per year in federal highway user fees and taxes and $1,783 per year in state highway user fees and taxes. These are in addition to other taxes typically paid by businesses.
Plan to delay ferry service cutoff
Coastal community leaders were shocked at Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s plan to shut down the state ferry system Oct. 1. State Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, who cochairs the Senate Finance Committee, is working with the administration on a plan to allow the system to operate through the middle of FY 2020, or essentially next summer and fall, to allow time for planning. Stedman has also asked the administration for cost estimates of shutting down the state ferry system. The governor intends to hire a consultant to advise on restructuring the system, presumably to privatize it. The Alaska Marine Highway System has meanwhile stopped taking reservations past the end of September.