Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday on the state Capitol steps in Juneau, carrying a message to the Legislature and Gov. Mike Dunleavy regarding the Alaska Marine Highway System: Keep it open.

The rally, organized by the Alaska AFL-CIO and ferry system employees' unions, pushed back against Dunleavy's budget proposal to end state ferry sailings by Oct. 1. Four lawmakers from communities linked by the marine highway system spoke at the event: Sens. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, along with Reps. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau and Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak.

Last week, a record number of people testified in favor of a robust ferry system before the House Transportation Committee.

The state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has also announced it's searching for a consultant to help restructure the ferry system and make it more economical.

Last week Senate Finance Commitee co-chair Bert Stedman, R-Sitka,  who has criticized Dunleavy's proposal as an "elimination budget" for the ferry system, said he was reviewing three options that would keep the ferries running after Oct. 1.

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