Though discussion of new revenues hasn’t gone far in the Legislature this session, the Senate on Friday passed a measure taxing refined fuels.
The bill updates how the state saves money designated for oil spill prevention and response. In the past, taxes were collected by the barrel and placed into a fund. Under House Bill 158, though, about one cent per gallon of gasoline is charged at the point of sale.
Soldotna Republican Peter Micciche says that while the 1989 Exxon-Valdez disaster casts a long shadow, most of the spills the state pays to clean up are small, involving refine gasoline products.
“I hope you can support this environmental surcharge, it’s less than a penny per gallon, less than a penny per day per Alaskan, and the effort is about keeping Alaska clean and spill free,” Micciche said.
The measure received opposition from some senators over unfairly collecting a tax from customers who may never spill fuel. Chugiak Republican Bill Stoltze says the measure plays favorites by levying a new tax burden on consumers, but not the aviation or commercial fishing industries.
“I am going to try to exercise a discipline of not creating new revenues and protecting bureaucracies at a time when we’re still nowhere near finished,” Stoltze said. “I’m not trying to make a hard-fast line in the sand, but it’s a line in the sand that I certainly just don’t want to rub off when it’s convenient.”
The bill passed the senate with a vote of 13-7 and now heads to the governor’s desk for signature.