Dunleavy proposes repealing fish tax share to coastal communities
Gov. Mike Dunleavy wants to repeal a law that requires revenue sharing for funds generated from two fisheries taxes with certain coastal communities.
Senate Bill 63 was introduced on the Senate floor on Monday. The bill would mean a loss of $29 million annually to fishing communities such as Cordova, Ketchikan, Kodiak and Unalaska.
SB 63 is philosophically similar to SB 57, which would remove taxing authority from boroughs and municipalities that receive property taxes on oil and gas facilities.
“It’s a huge deal,” said Rep. Louis Stutes, R-Kodiak. “Those dollars go right into maintaining the community and providing amenities to live there. I will be fighting like a bulldog on a pant leg not to allow that to happen. We need to maintain our rural communities and our coastal communities so not only do they want to fish here, but they want to raise their families here and live here. That will have a devastating effect.”
The state collects two fisheries taxes which it shares with local governments.
The first is a fisheries business tax that gets shared with a municipality where the commercially caught fish get processed. The second is a fishery resource landing tax, half of which goes to municipalities where commercially caught fish are delivered.
Currently, 50 percent of each tax goes to the communities. Dunleavy wants that money rerouted to the state’s treasury.
The bill is one of nearly two dozen that Dunleavy says are necessary to help balance the state’s budget and establish a foothold into solving the state’s fiscal crisis. So far, only six have been formally proposed.
In a letter to Senate President Cathy Giessel, Dunleavy wrote, "I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure."
The bill has been referred to the Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. SB 63 would likely get a hearing in the House Special Committee on Fisheries, which is chaired by Stutes, who said she believes she would give the bill fair hearing.
The House has yet to enter bills into the record because committees hadn't been established when the House met Monday morning.
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.